Note: Post-OCR editing of the footnote section is not yet complete. tgt, 4/17/03
HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHALE FISHERY FROM ITS EARLIEST INCEPTION TO THE YEAR 1876
BY ALEXANDER STARBUCK
Value of the fisheries as accessories to advancing civilization (Note. - Intentions of S. H. Jenks, esq., and Hon. L. Sabine to write the history of whaling; difficulties in the way of compiling the history; names of parties to whom the author is specially indebted for assistance Whalemen the first to display the American flag in foreign ports The influence of the fisheries in our national politics and diplomacy (Note. - The experience of a Russian and an English exploring party).
|B.||FROM 1600 TO 1700-CAPE COD, CONNECTICUT, LONG ISLAND, NANTUCKET, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, SALEM:|
MASSACHUSETTS. - Origin of the American whale-fishery Why the Puritans favored Cape Cod (Note. Grant to Massachusetts under the charter) Indian whaling (Note. .Whales numerous along the coast of America) Protection and promotion of the fisheries by Massachusetts Drift whales (Note. Indian custom; Greenlander's idea of heaven; Purchas's account of whaling) Letter from the general court of Plymouth to Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Eastham, and reply Tradition of William Hamilton; its apparent unreasonableness (Note. Order of Plymouth court concerning drift whales) Testimony of Randolph to value of whale-fishery Regulations of general court of Massachusetts concerning drift whales Inspectors of whales appointed by the Plymouth government; their duties defined CONNECTICUT. Whaling from Connecticut Resolve of the general court NEW YORK. The first organized prosecution of whaling probably from Long Island Regulations of the town of Southampton (Note. Settlement of Southampton) Whaling from Easthampton Petition of Easthampton, Southampton, and Southwold to the English government Action of the Dutch Letter from Samuel Mavericke to Colonel Nicolls Confirmation by Governor Lovelace of order of Southampton Drift whales Employment of Indians Absorption of the trade in oil by the New England colonies, and consequent disturbance of the authorities at New York The Dutch interregnum, and its hardships to the people of Long Island Oppression of the colonial government; petition of Benjamin Alford, of Boston (Note. Blank form of clearance) Act to encourage trade and navigation Petition of Timotheus Vanderuen for permission to sail to the Bahamas sperm-whaling Whaling on Long Island, 1688 Rate of exchange at Easthampton, 1688 First whaling expedition at Nantucket Proposed agreement of James Loper (Note. Probability that Loper never settled in Nantucket) The islanders employ Ichabod Paddock Whaling at Martha's Vineyard (Note. Paddock at Nantucket) Whaling from Salem From Canada (Note. Canadian whaling).
|C.||FROM 1700 TO 1750-NANTUCKET, LONG ISLAND, CAPE COD, SALEM, BOSTON, RHODE ISLAND, MARTHA'S VINEYARD:|
Shore whaling at Nantucket (Note. Late prosecution of this pursuit from Southamption) The first sperm whale taken by Nantucket men Whaling out in the "deep" Oil shipped from Nantucket to London in 1720 (Note. - Drift sperm whale on Nantucket; bill of lading) Increase of the business (Note. Vessels registered from 1694 to 1714; Russian India Company ordered to fit out whalers; statement of Greenland whaling; Sweden) Exports to England, 1730 Culminating point of shore-whaling at Nantucket First recorded loss of a whaling vessel from Nantucket (Note. Names of the whale-boat captains at Nantucket and what they did in 1726; rescue of William Walling by a Nantucket whaleman; vessel of 118 tons burden built at Nantucket in 1732; accidents from whaling; petition of Dinah Coffin) Increase in the business at Nantucket Indians employed Cape Cod and Long Island called upon to supply the deficiency of men (Note. Anecdote of Indian crew shorewhaling; Indian carried down by a foul line, 1744; imports of oil at London from New England, 1729) Nantucket merchants chip oil to London Date of Davis's Straits fishery, according to Macy LONG ISLAND. Difficulties between the Long Islanders and the New York government (Note. Indian plot at Nantucket, and fears for whaling fleet; Macy's date of Davis's Straits fishery erroneous) Quarrels between the New York governors and the whalemen Act for "Encouragement of whaling" (Note. Whale ashore at Nantucket; drift whales at Suffolk County, New York) Quantity of oil brought into Long Island and the fishing season Endeavor to monopolize the business Samuel Mulford, of Easthampton, va the New York colonial government EASTHAM. Petition of the people of Eastham and vicinity for exclusive leave to make available the waste of whales Falmouth Indians discharged from the army to attend to the whale-fishery in 1724 and '25 Renewed activity in whaling from Cape Cod (Note. Severe storm at Provincetown in 1728) Boat's crew lost near Chatham Large whale killed at Provincetown Accident to a Chatham crew Ill success at Provincetown Accident (Note. A dozen whalers fit from Provincetown, 1737) French and Spanish privateers Provincetown in luck (Note. Accident at Truro; gradual recession of whales) Captain Roach's vessel seized by a French privateer Salem Boston (Note. Whale killed in Boston harbor; whale warps and blubber advertised; price of whalebone quoted, 1723) RHODE ISLAND. Acts of the assembly encouraging whaling According to Arnold, the first regularly equipped whaleman from Rhode Island arrives in 1733 Whaling at Martha's Vineyard Sailing of the Diamond, Leopard, Humbird, and Susannah, and result of the experiments.
|D.||FROM 1750 TO 1784-NANTUCKET, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, CAPE COD, BOSTON, LONG ISLAND, RHODE ISLAND, NEW BEDFORD, WILLIAMSBURGH, ETC.:|
An eventful period for the fishery English bounties Concession of bounties to the colonies a part of the scheme for the expulsion of the Acadians Embargo on bank-fishermen (Note. Colonists taxed to support a frigate on the banks) Petition of John Norton, for Martha's Vineyard, and Abishai Folger, for Nantucket, for permission to whale (Note. - Usual course of whalemen) Opening of the Saint Lawrence and Belle Isle whaling-ground, and its monopoly Petition of American oil merchants against unjust discriminations, with statement of fishery (Note. Names of 75 Nantucket whaling captains in 1763) Influence of the colonial whale-fishery on English politics Nantucket whalemen captured by French privateers Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard Further misfortunes to the Vineyard whaling fleet Boston's share in the business Whalemen lost (Note. Revival of fashions) LONG ISLAND. Three sloops fit from Sag Harbor in 1760 (Note. Sag Harbor settled in 1630) RHODE ISLAND. Reports of whaling there in 1766 Williamsburgh, Virginia, sends out a whaling-vessel Dartmouth invests in the business (Note. - Ricketson's account; accident to a Dartmouth man) Extract from log of the whale-ship Betsey English governors claim a monopoly of the Saint Lawrence fisheries, to the exclusion of the colonists Their orders, proclamations, and acts, and the effects upon colonial whaling (Note. Extracts from the Boston News-Letter in 1766) (Note. The main features of the fishing act of William III) The misdeeds of whalemen, as recited by Palliser, doubtless exaggerated Whaling at the southward Providence, New York, and Newport, their connection with the business (Note. Reported success of the people of Nantucket) Resumption of the Saint Lawrence fishery Casualties there (Notes. Extract from log of the Tryall, of Dartmouth; affray of Indians on a Nantucket vessel) The whaling fleet of 1768 (Note. Nantucket's fleet; fight between the crew of a Marblehead brig and a press-gang) From 1770 to 1775, community of interests among the inhabitants of Nantucket (Notes. - Whalemen fitted from Middletown, Conn.; method of settling voyages; Nantucket's home-workmen interested in the result of the voyages) (Notes. - Difference between "head" and "body" oil) Description of cutting-in a sperm whale Restrictions on colonial commerce) Capture of whalemen by French and Spanish privateers in 1771 Crews of two Nantucket whalingsloops capture a piratical ship American navigators and the Gulf Stream; English self-sufficiency The course of the Gulf Stream first charted by a Nantucket captain Whalemen captured by Spanish cruisers in 1772 (Note. The Rhode Island fleet: a fish story) Whaling on the coast of Africa Massacre of part of the crew of a Boston brig Captures by the French (Note. Dates of the fishery in different localities) The Portuguese mode of obtaining experience in 1774 (Notes. Infrequency of going into a port of some whaling-ships; description of a "snow") Statistics of the fishery in 1774 (Note. Detailed statement of the business from 1771 to 1775) The Revolution Massachusetts the focus of insurrection The fisheries first to feel the shock of war (Note. Importance of colonial trade to England) Efforts of the English government to reduce New England by restrictions upon her fisheries Strenuous fight of the minority in Parliament Petitions against the restraining act (Note. Evidence introduced by the opponents of the act) Arguments against the passage of the act Burke's eloquence (Note. The Falkland Islands) Relief for Nantucket Massachusetts also passes a restraining bill Nantucket relieved of its rigors Resolve of the general court of Massachusetts in regard to whaling-vessels Nantucket alone in the business (Note. Importation of gunpowder; complaint of the Earl of Dartmouth) Desperate strait of the islanders Petitions to the general court of Massachusetts for permission to sail on whaling voyages (Note. Form of bond required by the general court Attempt to secure the alliance of France and Spain, and the position of the fishery question How England was affected by the cutting-off of colonial commerce Efforts of the English ministry to transfer the fisheries to Great Britain, and their result (Note. Captures of American whalemen) Terrible calamity on the banks of Newfoundland (Note. Distress at the Barbadoes) Further severity of the English government Its operation on American commerce (Note. Heroism of a ship captain) Letter from John Adams detailing the method by which England prosecuted the whale-fishery (Note. - Report from Messrs Franklin and Adams of captives List of some of the captains of whaling-vessels forced into the English service Destruction of property by the British in sea-port towns in 1778-'79 (Notes. British fishery at Canso destroyed; abstract of property destroyed by the British at New Bedford, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Edgartown, Holmes's Hole, Sag Harbor, and Warren) Further negotiation between the United States and France Sad state of affairs at Nantucket Petitions to the Federal and British authorities for permission to live (Note. Correction of slanders by Mr. Rotch; form of permit issued by the English) Difficulties in prosecuting the fishery (Note. Destroyed and defaced records) Petition of the people of Nantucket reciting their distressed condition and praying for relief Reference to the Continental Congress (Note. Explanation of a charge against the islanders) Nantucket sends two citizens to Philadelphia to intercede with Congress for relief Diplomatic battle on the terms for peace (Note. Congress grants 35 licenses to Nantucket vessels to whale)
|E.||FROM 1784 TO 1876:|
The condition in which the war left the business of whaling Nantucket's sacrifice on the altar of liberty (Notes. Loss of men to Nantucket; Warren's loss) The first ship to hoist the "rebellious stripes of America" in any British port (Notes. Anecdote of a sailor; where and when the Bedford was built) Revival of whaling New ports enter into competition The market overstocked Bounty on oil The bounty injurious to the business Effort to transfer the fishery to foreign ports Mr. Rotch in England (Note. Letter of Capt. Alexander Coffin to Hon. Samuel Adams) Negotiations with the English and French governments English obstinacy and French concession National negotiations for a treaty of commerce The American minister thoroughly alive to American necessities (Note. One hundred wbalemen in 78° north latitude;* whalemen as far north as 79° 2' 82") (Note. - The Portuguese fishery Massachusetts navigation act only operative against Great Britain Letter from James Bowdoin to Minister Adams (Note. - The English sperm-whale fishery) Effect of foreign bounties on the American fishery Founding of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (Note. Why the transfer from Nantucket to Nova Scotia suddenly stopped; Mr. Rotch returns to the United States 1796) Milford Haven supplants Dartmouth The Dunkirk transfer not a success France favors the United States (Notes. - Consumption of oil in France; comparative statement of the English and American fisheries in 1775 and 1788) Revival of the fishery in the United States Vessels fitting out for the Pacific Ocean (Notes. Sag Harbor and New Bedford recommence whaling; the Pacific fishery; singular incident in Woolwich Bay) French spoliations (Notes. Report that England would monopolize the Delago Bay ground; sensitiveness of the people of Nantucket on the subject of spoliations) Ships seized and condemned in Spanish America Augmentation of the whaling-fleet (Note. East Haddam and New London vessels) The war of 1812 Rapid diminution of the fleet by capture (Notes. Meeting of ship-owners at Nantucket; captured wbalemen used in the English fishery) Lima seizes American whalemen Poinsett effects their release by the eloquence of powder and balls (Notes. The Nanina, of New York, betrayed by a rescued English crew; the Sally and Triton, of New Bedford, captured) Captain Porter sent to the Pacific to protect American shipping Destruction of the English Pacific fishery (Notes. Capture and recapture of the Walker and the Barclay, of New Bedford; amusing anecdote of a duel) An English privateer on the coast (Note. Vessels captured by Porter) Peace Resumption of whaling Activity of the people of Nantucket (Note. Degrand on the Nantucket fleet) Strong competition New grounds opened (Note. Amusing but rather erroneous prophecy of Nantucket captains) Daring of the "toilers of the sea" Wilkes, Perry, and Maury indebted to our whalemen for much information; Agassiz on the Hayes expedition; cruelties practiced upon the South Sea islanders, and their legitimate fruits Even the Red Sea invaded The golden age of whaling The Kodiah[sic] ground The first bow-head whale (Note. Difference of opinion as to who first ascertained the value of the bow-head) Captain Royce enters the Arctic (Note. Extract from the Saratoga's log) (Note. Record of thirteen Arctic wbalemen in 1849) Gradual diminution of the fleet (Notes. Ludicrous fears of a manufacturer; revival of the English South Sea fishery; San Francisco, Monterey, and Crescent City become whaling ports; remarkable journey of wrecked oil) The rebellion and its effect upon whaling Capture of whalemen Atrocious manner of capture Sale and transfer of vessels The stone fleets (Note. history of the Corea) The Shenandoah enters the Pacific Fearless conduct of Captain Young, of the bark Favorite (Notes. Names of the stone fleet and the captured whalemen) Captain Nye mans his boats to warn his brother whalemen Ravages of the Shenandoah Alacrity with which the sea-port towns responded to the calls for men (Note. Whaling-agents in Payta tender their services to the government) Terrible disaster in the Arctic (Note. Table of Arctic whaling) (Note. - Protest of the captains of the beleaguered whale-ships) (Note. - Names and value of the fleet; condition of what was left in 1872; another disaster; lowest ebb of the fishery) Constant decline of the business Its condition in 1877 Causes of its decline (Notes. Atlantic whaling; cost of outfitting (Note. Enormous outlays in refitting in the Pacific; consular care for personal interests; testimony of an English journal to the value of the whale-fishery to the United States; what has been done by our seamen)
* The latitude is misprinted in the note.
|F.||THE DANGERS OF THE WHALE FISHERY:|
The position of whaling captains as navigators (Notes. Comparative rates of English and American insurance; a Nantucket captain) Loss of the ship Union, of Nantucket (Note. Instances of vessels running upon whales) Belligerent whales; loss of the Essex, of Nantucket (Note. Careful avoidance of the subject of his terrible boat-journey, by Captain Pollard) Loss of the Ann Alexander, of New Bedford (Note. What became of the whale which sunk the Ann Alexander; similar accidents to vessels) Fighting whales; attacks on boats The Hector, of New Bedford (Notes. Position of the sperm whale in attacking; the Emerald, of Now Bedford; description of a whale-boat) The Parker Cook, of Provincetown Captain Huutting Furious attack by a right whale (Note. Modes of attack by the right and sperm whales) (Note. The secret of the weakness of the right whale overlooked by naturalists) Method of signaling to boats from the ship (Notes. Sunk whales; different opinions as to the captain's place) Fights with the savages; the Awashonks, of Falmouth (Note. Vessels which have been attacked in a similar manner to the Awashonks) Lost boats; the Janet, of Westport (Note. Statement of the Janet's mate; the Massachusetts, of New Bedford; foul lines) Mutinies The Globe, of Nantucket The Junior, of New Bedford (Note. The William Penn, of San Francisco) Polar whaling and its perils Letter from Captain Pease, of the Champion, of Edgartown Letter from Captain Kelley, of the James Allen, of New Bedford Heavier anchors and cables needed in Arctic whaling Hudson's Bay (Notes. Extract from Malte Brun; the Ansel Gibbs, of New Bedford) Horrible tale of the English whale-ship Diana Shipwrecks; the Canton, of New Bedford The Junius and Logan, of New Bedford The Lawrence, of (Note. The Manhattan, of Sag Harbor, rescues 22 shipwrecked Japanese; doubts as to reported shipwrecks) The Lagoda, of New Bedford (Note. One of the crew of the Plymouth, of Sag Harbor, visits Japan) Fire; the Cassander, of Providence Boringworms The Minerva 2d, of New Bedford (Note. The Niphon, of Nantucket)
|G.||A MISCELLANEOUS CHAPTER:|
Good voyages; the Wilmington and Liverpool packet, of New Bedford The Uncas, of Falmouth The Loper, of Nantucket The Sarah, of Nantucket The South America, of Hudson The Magnolia, of Now Bedford The William Hamilton, of New Bedford The America, of New Bedford The Maria, of Nantucket The Silas Richards, of Sag Harbor; the Bowditch, of Providence; the Cordelia, of Provincetown The Lowell and General Williams, of New London The South America, of Providence; the Russell, of New Bedford; the Plymouth, of Sag Harbor The Coral, of New Bedford The Envoy, of New Bedford The Arctic fleet The Favorite, of Fairhaven; Montreal and Sheffield, of New Bedford The Pioneer, of New London Success not confined to large vessels The Admiral Blake, James, and Altamaha, of Sippican The Watchman, of Nantucket (Notes. Arctic whalebone; ambergris) Bad voyages The Clifford Wayne, of Fairhaven The Emeline, of New Bedford The Benjamin Rush, of Warren $1,000,000 loss in 1858 $36,000 loss to Provincetown in 1870 Sperm candles; Macy's account of the manufacture (Notes. Macy manifestly in error in date; petition of Benjamin Crabb) Exports of sperm candles from 1791 to 1815 (Notes. Duck factories at Salem, Boston, Nantucket, and Newport; bounty for the manufacture of duck by the general court of Massachusetts, in 1727; candle factories in Hudson, in 1797) Harpoons lost and found Whistling whale Large whales (Notes. Recovery of an iron; use of whalebone unknown in 1578; list of its present uses) Whalebone Description of the right whale Prices of whalebone (Note. Use of the bone in the whale's economy; high price of cut-bone) (Note. Description of brit) Large whales (Note. Liability to exaggeration) Endurance and strength of whales Thirty-one bomb-lances required to subdue one (Note. A whale takes out nearly six miles of line "Settling" of whales Appearance and disappearance of whales (Note. Large captures from schools of whales) Description of the capture of a whale (Note. Whale-boats from rival nations struggle for a whale in the South Pacific; how the American stole a march on the Englishman, in Delago Bay)
|H.||INTRODUCTORY TO RETURNS.|
|I.||RETURNS OF WHALING VESSELS from 1715 to 1784. |
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|J.||SUMMARY OF IMPORTATION OF OIL AND BONE from January 1, 1804, to January 1, 1887.|
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|K.||SYNOPSIS OF IMPORTATION, BY PORTS, from 1804 to 1877, with the nature and number of vessels returning, and (from 1839) the class and tonnage of vessels engaged.|
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|L.||EXPORTS FROM THE UNITED STATES, the products of the whale-fishery, from 1791 to July 1, 1876.|
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|M.||TONNAGE OF VESSELS ENGAGED IN THE WHALE FISHERY.|
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|M.||AGGREGATE YEARLY TONNAGE OF VESSELS ENGAGED IN THE WHALE-fishery from 1794 to 1816, and from 1818 to 1839.|
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|N.||SPECIAL TABLE OF THE YEARLY TONNAGE OF VESSELS ENGAGED IN whaling from New |
Bedford and Fairhaven from 1820 to 1839.
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|INDEX TO VOYAGES BY VESSELS; names arranged alphabetically, and towns also in alphabetical order.|
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|LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.|
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HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHALE FISHERY FROM ITS EARLIEST INCEPTION TO THE YEAR 1876 1
BY ALEXANDER STARBUCK
Few interests have exerted a more marked influence upon the history of the United States than that of the fisheries. Aside from the value they have had in a commercial point of view, they have always been found to be the nurseries of a hardy, daring, and indefatigable race of seamen, such as scarcely any other pursuit could have trained. The pioneers of the sea, whalemen were the advance guard, the forlorn hope of civilization. Exploring expeditions followed after to glean where they had reaped. In the frozen seas of the north and the south, their keels plowed to the extreme limit of navigation, and between the tropics they pursued their prey through regions never before traversed by the vessels of a civilized community. Holding their lives in their hands, as it were, whether they harpooned the leviathan in the deep, or put into some hitherto unknown port for supplies, no extreme of heat or cold could daunt them, no thought of danger hold them in check. Their lives have ever been one continual round of hair-breadth escapes, in which the risk was alike shared by officers and men. No shirk could find an opportunity to indulge his shirking, no coward a chance to display his cowardice, and in their hazardous life incompetents were speedily weeded out. Many a tale of danger and toil and suffering, startling, severe, and horrible, has illumined the pages of the history of this pursuit, and scarce any, even the humblest of these hardy mariners, but can, from his own experience, narrate truths stranger than fiction. In many ports, among hundreds of islands, on many seas the flag of the country from which they sailed was first displayed from the mast-head of a whale ship. Pursuing their avocation wherever a chance presented, the American flag was first unfurled in an English port from the deck of one American whaleman, and the ports of the western coast of South America first beheld the Stars and Stripes shown as the standard of another. It may be safely alleged that but for them the western oceans would much longer have been comparatively unknown,2 and with equal truth may it be said that whatever of honor or glory the United States may have won in its explorations of these oceans, the necessity for their explorations was a tribute wrung from the Government, though not without earnest and continued effort, to the interests of our mariners, who, for years before, had pursued the whale in these uncharted seas, and threaded their way with extremest care among these undescribed islands, reefs, and shoals. Into the field opened by them flowed the trade of the civilized world. In their footsteps followed Christianity. They introduced the missionary to new spheres of usefulness, and made his presence tenable. Says a writer in the London Quarterly Review: "The whale fishery first opened to Great Britain beneficial intercourse with the coast of Spanish America; IT LED IN THE SEQUEL TO THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE SPANISH COLONIES." * * * * * "But for our Whalers, we never might have founded our colonies in Van Dieman's Land and Australia or if we had we could not have maintained them in their early stages of danger and privation. Moreover, our intimacy with the Polynesians must be traced to the same source. The Whalers were the first that traded in that quarter they PREPARED THE FIELD FOR THE MISSIONARIES: and the same thing is now in progress in New Ireland, New Britain, and New Zealand." All that the English fishery has done for Great Britain, the American fishery has done for the United States and more. In war our Navy has drawn upon it for some of its sturdiest and bravest seamen, and in peace our commercial marine has found in it its choicest and most skilful officers. In connection with the cod-fishery it schooled the sons of America to a knowledge of their own strength, and in its protection developed and intensified that spirit of self-reliance, independence, and national power to which the conflict of from 1775 to 1783 was a natural and necessary resultant. The wars carried on between England and France from 1600 to 1760 had, as one of their objective points, a monopoly of these fisheries on the American coast from the plantations in Maine to the northward, and Port Royal, the culminating point of the conflict revealed to America the secret of her own strength. In the final treaty of peace succeeding the war for Independence the protection of these interests, which the colonists had, unaided, maintained, was made one of the ultimati on the part of the Commissioners for the United States, and subsequent events have demonstrated conclusively the wisdom of their statesmanship. At almost every stage of the arrangement of treaties of peace between England and France prior to 1783 and since 1600, and at almost every similar occasion in treaties between England and the United States subsequently to that time, the question of the fisheries has obtruded itself, and demanded a satisfactory solution. Latterly, it is true, the questions have hinged wholly upon the cod-fishery, since the taking of whales is mostly carried on outside of any national jurisdiction, but prior to and immediately after the war of the Revolution, as late indeed as 1818, the question of whaling was quite as much involved.
The development of this industry in the United States, from the period when a few boats first practiced it along the coast to the time when it employed a fleet of seven hundred stanch ships and fifteen thousand hardy seamen, is an interesting chapter in our national history.
B. FROM 1600 TO 1700.
CAPE COD, CONNECTICUT, LONG ISLAND, NANTUCKET, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, SALEM.
The American whale fishery (limiting that subject entirely to the prosecution of that pursuit from what is now known as the United States,) is cotemporary with the settlement of the New York and New England colonies. Indeed, one of the main ideas in the settlement of Massachusetts was the founding of a fishing colony, and one of the provisions in the charter guaranteed to the colonists their right to unrestrictedly fish.3 It was a serious question with the settlers of Eastern Massachusetts whether to adopt Cape Cod for a residence, or select some more propitious site, and the main arguments adduced for that locality were: "1st. That it afforded a good harbor for boats, though not for ships. 2d. That the ground was well adapted to the raising of corn. 3d. It was a place of profitable fishing; for large whales of the best kind for oil and bone came daily alongside and played about the ship. The master and his mate, and others experienced in fishing, preferred it to the Greenland whale fishery, and asserted that were they provided with the proper implements, £300 or £400 worth of oil might be obtained?" 4th. The situation was healthy, secure, and defensible. 5th. It was in the depth of winter and inexpedient to look further.4 Coming from England, as the vast majority of the early settlers did, where the value of the fisheries had already assumed considerable importance, it would have been strange if they had failed to have appreciated this important feature of their surroundings.
At this time the whales were very numerous both along the coast and in deep water.5 Their habits seem to have been somewhat migratory, as the boat-whaling season usually commenced very regularly early in November and ceased in March or April. According to some writers, the Indians, before the advent of the whites, were accustomed to pursue the whales in their canoes, and occasionally succeeded in harassing them to death. Their weapons consisted of a rude wooden harpoon, to which was attached a line with a wooden float at the end,6 and the method of attack was to plunge their instruments of torture into the body of the whale whenever he came to the surface of the water to breathe. In Waymouth's journal of his voyage to America in 1605,7 in describing the Indians on the coast, he says: "One especial thing is their manner of killing the whale, which they call powdawe; and will describe his form; how he bloweth up the water; and that he is twelve fathoms long and that they go in company of their king with a multitude of their boats; and strike him with a bone made in fashion of a harping iron fastened to a rope, which they make great and strong of the bark of trees, which they veer out after him; then all their boats come about him as he riseth above water, with their arrows they shoot him to death; when they have killed him and dragged him to shore, they call all their chief lords together, and sing a song of joy: and those chief lords, whom they call sagamores, divide the spoil and give to every man a share, which pieces so distributed, they hang up about their houses for provisions; and when they boil them they blow off the fat and put to their pease, maize, and other pulse which they eat." Among the Indians of Rhode Island it was the custom when a whale was cast ashore or killed within their jurisdiction, to cut the flesh into pieces and send to the neighboring tribes as a present of peculiar value.8 Scammon says:9 "It has been stated by several writers that the American colonists followed up the Indian mode of capturing the whale, by first striking it with a harpoon having a log of wood attached to it by a line, even as late as the commencement of the Sperm Whale fishery." It is quoted that the Hon. Paul Dudley stated: "Our people formerly used to kill the whale near the shore, but now they go off to sea in sloops and whale-boats. Sometimes the whale is killed by a single stroke, and yet at other times she will hold the whalemen in play near half a day together, with their lances; and sometimes they will get away after they have been lanced and spouted thick blood, with irons in them, and drags (droges) fastened to them, which are thick boards about fourteen inches square." * * * "We are of the opinion, however, that the colonial whalers did not follow the Indian mode of whale-fishing; for it is well known that the British whalers, as early as 1670, used the line attached to the boat, and, so far as the drags or 'droges' are concerned, they are used at the present day in cases of emergency.10
As early as 1639, Massachusetts, with an eye to the importance of the fisheries, passed an act to encourage them. By its provisions all vessels employed in taking or transporting fish were exempted from all duties and taxes for the term of seven years, and all fishermen were exempted from military service during the fishing season. As important as the pursuit of whaling seemed to have been considered by the first settlers, many years seem to have elapsed before it was followed as a business, though probably something was attempted in that direction prior to any recorded account that we have. The subject of drift-whales appears to have attracted considerable importance both in the Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay colonies. The colonial government claimed a portion, a portion was allowed to the town, and the finder, if no other claimant appeared to dispute his title, might presume to claim the other third. Evidently at times some disposition to rebel was manifested, for in 1661, the general court of Plymouth Colony sent to Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Eastham the following proposition:
"OCT. 1, 1661. LOUEING FRINDS: Whereas the Generall Court was pleased to make some proposition to you respecting the drift fish or whales; in case you should refuse theire proffer, they impowered mee, though vnfitt, to farme out what should belonge vnto them on that account; and seeing the time is expired, and it fales into my hands to dispose of, I doe therefore, with the advice of the Court, in answare to your remonstrance, say, that if you will duely and trewly pay to the countrey for euery whale that shall come one hogshead of oyle att Boston, where I shall appoint, and that current and merchantable, without any charge or trouble to the countrey.11 I say, for peace and quietness sake you shall have it for this present season, leaueing you and the Election Court to settle it soe as it may bee to satisfaction on both sides; and in case you accept not of this tender, to send it within fourteen dayes after the date heerof and if I heare not from you, I shall take it for graunted that you will accept of it, and shall expect the accomplishment of the same.
"Youers to vse,
"CONSTANT SOUTHWORTH TREASU."12
The offer was accepted and indorsed as follows:
"THE SIXT OF THE FIRST MONTH 61-62.
"Agreement to give 2 bbls of oyle from each whale according to proposition made for yeare past, to end all troubles.
Numerous instances of orders relating to drift-whales occur in the records of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and New York. In 1662, the town of Eastham voted that a part of every whale cast ashore should be appropriated for the support of the ministry.13 Many were the disputes that the general court was called upon to adjust in regard to stranded whales, but the decisions seem to be, if not generally satisfactory, at least universally acquiesced in.
The earliest account of whale-killing by the people of Cape Cod comes to us in the form of a tradition, and quite an unsatisfactory and improbable tradition, too. It is to the effect that one William Hamilton was the first to kill these fish from that region, and be was obliged to remove from that section of country, as his fellow-citizens persecuted him for his skill, attributing his success to undue familiarity with evil spirits. Hamilton is said to have removed to Rhode Island, and from thence to Connecticut, where he died in 1746, aged 103 years. Several things militate against this story. Neither the annals of the Cape14 nor genealogical registers contain any record of him. Naturally the courts would take some cognizance of an offense so heinous that the offender was openly persecuted, but we do not find him noted as a criminal. The people who settled on the Cape were too familiar with fishing to attribute success to aught but skill and natural causes, and the Cape was more an asylum for the persecuted than the source of persecution. It is far more probable that at the time of his birth, if he ever existed there, there were people familiar with this art in that region. It had certainly become a pursuit of much importance in other sections of the country long before he was old enough to handle a harpoon, and the product of this fishery had found its way to Boston while he was yet a young man.
In 1683 Secretary Randolph writes home from Massachusetts: "New Plimouth Colony have great profit by whale killing. I believe it will be one of our best returnes, now beaver and peltry fayle us."15 In March of the same year there was placed on the colonial records of Massachusetts Bay a memorandum embodying the universally recognized law of whalemen that "craft claims the whale." It specifies:
"furst: if aney pursons shall find a Dead whael on the streem And have the opportunity to toss herr on shoure; then ye owners to alow them twenty shillings;
2ly: if thay cast hur out & secure ye blubber & bone then ye owners to pay them for it 30s (that is if ye whael ware lickly to be loast;)
3ly, if it proves a floate son not killed by men then ye Admirall to Doe thaire in as he shall please;
4ly; that no persons shall presume to cut up any whael till she be vewed by toe persons not consarned; that so ye Right owners may not be Rongged of such whael or whaels;
5ly, that no whael shall be needlessly or fouellishly lansed behind ye vitall to avoid stroy;
6ly, that each companys harping Iron & lance be Distinckly marked on ye heads & socketts with a poblick mark: to ye prevention of strife;
7ly, that if a whale or whalls be found & no Iron in them: then thay that lay ye neerest claime to them by thaire strokes & ye natoral markes to haue them;
8ly, if 2 or 3 companyes lay equal claimes, then thay eqnelly to shear."16
In November, 1690, the colony of New Plymouth appointed "Inspectors of Whale," in order to the "prevention of suits by whalers." The rules governing them were:
- All whales killed or wounded & left at sea the killers to repaire to the inspectors & give marks, time, place, which shall be recorded.
- All whales brought or cast ashore to be viewed by inspector or deputy before being cut & marks & wounds recorded with time & place.
- Any person cutting or defacing whale before being viewed unless necessary shall lose right to it, & pay 10£ to county, & fish to be seized by inspectors for owners' use. Inspectors to have power to make deputy and allow 6s. per whale.
- Those finding whale a mile from shore not appearing to be killed by man shall be first to secure them, pay 1 hogshead of oyle to ye county for each whale."17
In 1647 (May 25) at a meeting of the general court held at Hartford, Conn., the following resolve was passed: "Yf Mr. Whiting, wth any others shall make tryall and prsecute a designe for the takeing of whale wthin these libertyes, and if vppon tryall wthin the terme of two yeares, they shall like to goe on, noe others shalbe suffered to interrupt the, for the tearme of seauen yeares."18 Whether Mr. Whiting, who seems to have been quite a prominent man and a merchant at Hartford, ever did "prosecute his designe," or not, we are left to conjecture; but so far as we at present know, this is the earliest official document showing any intention in that direction, and many years elapse before Connecticut again claims attention upon this subject.
It is probably safe to assert that the first organized prosecution of the American whale-fishery was made along the shores of Long Island. The town of Southampton, which was settled in 1640 by an offshoot from the Massachusetts Colony at Lynn,19 was quick to appreciate the value of this source of revenue. In March, 1644, the town ordered the town divided into four wards of eleven persons to each ward, to attend to the drift-whales cast ashore. When such an event took place two persons from each ward (selected by lot) were to be employed to cut it up. "And every Inhabitant with his child or servant that is above sixteen years of age shall have in the Division of the other part," (i. e. what remained after the cutters deducted the double share they were, ex officio, entitled to) "an equall proportion provided that such person when yt falls into his ward a sufficient man to be imployed aboute yt."20 Among the names of those delegated to each ward are many whose descendants became prominent in the business as masters or owners of vessels the Coopers, the Sayres, Mulfords, Peirsons, Hedges, Howells, Posts, and others. A few years later the number of "squadrons" was increased to six.
In February, 1645, the town ordered that if any whale was cast ashore within the limits of the town no man should take or carry away any part thereof without order from a magistrate, under penalty of twenty shillings. Whoever should find any whale or part of a whale, upon giving notice to a magistrate, should have allowed him five shillings, or if the portion found should not be worth five shillings the finder should have the whole. "And yt is further ordered that yf any shall finde a whale or any peece thereof upon the Lord's day then the aforesaid shillings shall not be due or payable."21 "This last clause" says Howell, "appears to be a very shrewd thrust at 'mooning' on the beach on Sundays."
It was customary a few years later to fit out expeditions of several boats each for whaling along the coast, the parties engaged camping out on shore during the night. These expeditions were usually gone about one or two weeks.22 Indians were usually employed by the English, the whites furnishing all the necessary implements, and the Indians receiving a stipulated proportion of oil in payment.
In Easthampton on the 6th of November, 1651, "It was Ordered that Goodman Mulford shall call out ye Town by succession to loke out for whale"23 Easthampton, however, like every other town where whales were obtainable, seems to have had its little unpleasantnesses on the subject, for in 1653 the town "Ordered that the share of whale now in controversie between the Widow Talmage and Thomas Talmage" (alas for the old-time Chesterfieldian gallantry) "shall be divided among them as the lot is."24 In the early deeds of the town the Indian grantors were to be allowed the fins and tails of all drift-whales; and in the deed of Montauk Island and Point, the Indians and whites were to be equal sharers in these prizes.25 In 1672 the towns of Easthampton, Southampton, and Southwold presented a memorial to the court at Whitehall "setting forth that they have spent much time and paines, and the greatest part of their Estates, in settling the trade of whale-fishing in the adjacent seas, having endeavoured it above these twenty yeares, but could not bring it to any perfection till within these 2 or 3 yeares last past. And it now being a hopefull trade at New Yorke, in America, the Governor and the Dutch there do require ye Petitioners to come under their patent, and lay very heavy taxes upon them beyond any of his Maties subjects in New England, and will not permit the petitioners to have any deputys in Court,26 but being chiefe, do impose what Laws they please upon them, and insulting very much over the Petitioners threaten to cut down their timber which is but little they have to Casks for oyle, altho' the Petrs purchased their landes of the Lord Sterling's deputy, above 30 yeares since, and have till now under the Government and Patent of Mr. Winthrop, belonging to Conitycut Patent, which lyeth far more convenient for ye Petitioners assistance in the aforesaid Trade." They desire, therefore, either to continue under the Connecticut government, or to be made a free corporation. This petition was referred to the "Council on Foreign Plantations."
This would make the commencement of this industry date back not far from the year 1650. In December, 1652, the directors of the Dutch West India Company write to Director General Peter Stuyvesant, of New York: "In regard to the whale fishery we understand that it might be taken in hand during some part of the year. If this could be done with advantage, it would be a very desirable matter, and make the trade there flourish and animate many people to try their good luck in that branch.27" In April, (4th,) 1656, the council of New York "received the request of Hans Jongh, soldier and tanner, asking for a ton of train-oil or some of the fat of the whale lately captured.28
In April, 1669, Mr. Samuel Mavericke writes to Colonel Nicolls:29
"On ye Eastend of Long Island there were 12 or 13 whales taken before ye end of March, and what since wee heare not; here are dayly some seen in the very harbour, sometimes within Nutt Island. Out of the Pinnace the other week they struck two, but lost both, the iron broke in one, the other broke the warpe.30 The Governor hath encouraged some to follow this designe. Two shallops made for itt, but as yett wee doe not heare of any they have gotten?'
In 1672, the town of Southampton passed an order for the regulation of whaling, which, in the latter part of the year, received the following confirmation from Governor Lovelace:
"Whereas there was an ordinance made at a Towne-Meeting in South Hampton upon the Second Day of May last relating to the Regulation of the Whale ffishing and Employment of the Indyans therein, wherein particularly it is mentioned. That whosoever shall Hire an Indyan to go a-Whaling, shall not give him for his Hire above one Trucking Cloath Coat, for each whale, hee and his Company shall Kill, or halfe the Blubber, without the Whale Bone under a Penalty therein exprest: Upon Considerac'on had thereupon, I have thought good to Allow of the said Order, And do hereby Confirm the same, untill some inconvenience therein shall bee made appeare, And do also Order that the like Rule shall bee followed at East Hampton and other Places if they shall finde it practicable amongst them.
"Given under my hand in New Yorke, the 28th of November, 1672.
[Sign.] "FRAN: LOVELACE."31
Upon the same day that the people of Southampton passed the foregoing order, Governor Lovelace also issued an order citing that in consequence of great abuse to his Royal Highness in the matter of drift-whales upon Long Island, he had thought fit to appoint Mr. Wm. Osborne and Mr. John Smith, of Hempstead, to make strict inquiries of Indians and English in regard to the matter.32
It was early found to be essential that all important contracts and agreements, especially "between the English and Indians relating to the killing of whales should be entered upon the town books, and signed by the parties in presence of the clerk and certified by him. Boat-whaling was so generally practiced and was considered of so much importance by the whole community, that every man of sufficient abilits in the town was obliged to take his turn in watching for whales from some elevated position on the beach, and to sound the alarm on one being seen near the coast."33 In April, (2d,) 1668, an agreement was entered on the records of Easthampton, binding certain Indians of Montauket in the sum of £10 sterling to go to sea, whaling, on account of Jacobus Skallenger and others, of Easthampton, beginning on the 1st of November and ending on the 1st of the ensuing April, they engaging "to attend dilligently with all opportunitie for ye killing of whales or other fish, for ye sum of three shillings a day for every Indian: ye sayd Jacobus Skallenger and partners to furnish all necessarie craft and tackling convenient for ye designe." The laws governing these whaling-companies were based on justice rather than selfishness. Among the provisions was one passed January 4, 1669, whereby a member of one company finding a dead whale killed by the other company was obliged to notify the latter. A prudent proviso in the order was that the person bringing the tidings should be well rewarded. If the whale was found at sea, the killers and finders were to be equal sharers. If irons were found in the whale, they were to be restored to the owners.34 In 1672, John Cooper desired leave to employ some "strange Indians" to assist him in whaling, which leave was granted;35 but these Indian allies required tender handling, and were quite apt to ignore their contracts when a fair excuse could be found, especially if their hands had already closed over the financial consideration. Two or three petitions relating to cases of this kind are on file at New York. One of them is from "Jacob Skallenger, Stephen Hand, James Loper and other adjoined with them in the Whale Designe at Easthampton," and was presented in 1675. It sets forth that they had associated together for the purpose of whaling, and agreed to hire twelve Indians and man two boats. Having seen the natives yearly employed both by neighbors and those in surrounding towns, they thought there could be no objection to their doing likewise. Accordingly, they agreed in June with twelve Indians to whale for them during the following season. "But it fell out soe that foure of the said Indians (competent & experienced men) belonged to Shelter-Island whoe with the rest received of your peticonrs in pt. of their hire or wages 25s. a peece in hand at the time of the contract, as the Indian Custome is and without which they would not engage themselves to goe to Sea as aforesaid for your Peticonrs." Soon after this there came an order from the governor requiring, in consequence of the troubles between the English and the aborigines, that all Indians should remain in their own quarters during the winter. "And some of the towne of Easthampton wanteing Indians to make up theire crue for whaleing they take advantage of your honrs sd Ordre thereby to hinder your peticonrs of the said foure Shelter-Island Indians. One of ye Overseers being of the Company that would soe hinder your peticonrs. And Mr. Barker warned yor peticonrs not to entertaine the said foure Indians without licence from your hour. And although some of your peticoners opposites in this matter of great weight to them seek to prevent yor peticonrs from haveing those foure Indians under pretence of zeal in fullfilling yr honrs order, yet it is more then apparent that they endeavor to break yor peticonrs Company in yt mater that soe they themselves may have opportunity out of the other eight Easthampton Indians to supply theire owue wants." After representing the loss liable to accrue to them from the failure of their design and the inability to hire Easthampton Indians, on account of their being already engaged by other companies, they ask relief in the premises,36 which Governer Andross, in an order dated November 18, 1675, grants them, by allowing them to employ the aforesaid Shelter-Island Indians.37
Another case is that of the widow of one Cooper, who in 1677 petitions Andross to compel some Indians who had been hired and paid their advance by her late husband to fulfill to her the contract made with him, they having been hiring out to other parties since his decease.38
The trade in oil from Long Island early gravitated to Boston and Connecticut, and this was always a source of much uneasiness to the authorities at New York. The people inhabiting Easthampton, Southampton, and vicinity, settling under a patent with different guarantees from those allowed under the Duke of York, had little in sympathy with that government, and always turned toward Connecticut as their natural ally and Massachusetts as their foster mother. Scarcely had what they looked upon as the tyrannies of the New York governors reduced them to a sort of subjection when they were assailed by a fresh enemy. A sudden turn of the wheel of fortune brought them, in 1673, a second time under the control of the Dutch. During this interregnum, which lasted from July, 1673, to November, 1674, they were summoned, by their then conquerors, to send delegates to an assembly to be convened by the temporary rulers. In reply the inhabitants of Easthampton, Southampton, Southold, Seatoocook, and Huntington returned a memorial setting that up to 1664 they had lived quietly and prosperously under the government of Connecticut. Now, however, the Dutch had by force assumed control, and, understanding them to be well disposed, the people of those parts proffer a series of ten requests. The ninth is the particular one of interest in this connection, and is the only one not granted. In it they ask, "That there be ffree liberty granted ye 5 townes afresd for ye procuring from any of ye united Collonies (without molestation on either side:) warpes, irons or any other necessaries ffor ye comfortable carring on the whale design" To this reply is made that it "cannot in this conjunction of time be allowed." "Why," says Howell,39 "the Council of Governor Colve chose thus to snub the English in these five towns in the matter of providing a few whale-irons and necessary tackle for capturing the whales that happened along the coast, is inconceivable;" but it must be remembered that the English and Dutch had long been rivals in this pursuit, even carrying their rivalry to the extreme of personal conflicts. The Dutch assumed to be, and practically were, the factors of Europe in this business at this period, and would naturally be slow to encourage any proficiency in whaling by people upon they probably realized that their lease of authority would be brief. Hence, although they were willing to grant them every other right in common with those of their own nationality, maritime jealousy made this one request impracticable. How the people of Long Island enjoyed this state of affairs is easy to infer from their petition of 1672. The oppressions alike of New York governors and Dutch conquerors could not fail to increase the alienation that difference of habits, associations, interests, and rights had implanted within them. Among other arbitrary laws was one compelling them to carry all the oil they desired to export to New York to be cleared, a measure which produced so much dissatisfaction and inconvenience that it was beyond a doubt "more honored in the breach than in the observance." At times some captain, more scrupulous than the rest, would obey the letter of the law or procure a remission of it. Thus, in April, 1678, Benjamin Alford, of Boston, in New England, merchant, petitioned Governor Brockholds for permission to clear with a considerable quantity of oil that he had bought at Southampton, directly from that port to London, he paying all duties required by law. This he desires to do in order to avoid the hazard of the voyage to New York and the extra danger of leakage thereby incurred. He was accordingly allowed to clear as he desired.40
In 1684 an act for the "Encouragement of trade and Navigation" within the provinco of New York was passed, laying a duty of 10 per cent. on all oil and bone exported from New York to any other port or place except directly to England, Jamaica, Barbadoes, or some other of the Caribbean Islands.
In May, 1688, the Duke of York instructs his agent, John Leven, to inquire into the number of whales killed during the past six years within the province of New York, the produce of oil and bone, and "about his share."41 To this Leven makes reply that there has been no record kept, and that the oil and bone were shared by the companies killing the fish. To Leven's statement, Andross, who is in England defending his colonial government, asserts that all those whales that were driven ashore were killed and claimed by the whalers or Indians.42
In August, 1688, we find the first record of an intention to obtain sperm oil. Among the records in the State archives at Boston is a petition from Timotheus Vanderuen, commander of the brigantine Happy Return, of New Yorke, to Governor Andross, praying for "Licence and Permission, with one Equipage Consisting in twelve mariners, twelve whalernen and six Diuers from this Port, upon a fishing design about the Bohames Islands, And Cap florida, for sperma Coeti whales and Racks: And so to returne for this Port."43 Whether this voyage was ever undertaken or not we have no means of knowing, but the petition is conclusive evidence that there were men in the country familiar even then with some of the haunts of the sperm whale and with his capture.
Francis Nicholson, writing from Fort James, December, 1688, says: "Our whalers have had pretty good luck, killing about Graves End three large whales. On the Easte End aboute five or six small ones."44 During this same year the town of Easthampton being short of money, debtors were compelled to pay their obligations in produce, and in order to have some system of exchange the trustees of the town "being Legally met March 6, 1688-9 it was agreed that this year's Towne rate should be held to be good pay if it be paid as Follows:
|"Dry merchantable hides att||0||0||6|
|"Whale Bone 3 feet long and upwards||0||0||8||." 45|
The first whaling expedition in Nantucket "was undertaken," says Macy,46 "by some of the original purchasers of the island; the circumstances of which are handed down by tradition, and are as follows: A whale, of the kind called 'scragg,' came into the harbor and continued there three days. This excited the curiosity of the people, and led them to devise measures to prevent his return out of the harbor. They accordingly invented and caused to be wrought for them a harpoon, with which they attacked and killed the whale. This first success encouraged them to undertake whaling as a permanent business; whales being at that time numerous in the vicinity of the shores"
In 1672 the islanders, evidently desirous of making further progress in this pursuit, recorded a memorandum of a proposed agreement with one James Loper, in which it is said that the said James
"doth Ingage to carrey on a Designe of Whale Catching on the Island of Nantucket that is to say James Ingages to be a third in all Respects, and som of the Town Ingages also to carrey on the other two thirds with him in like manner the town doth also consent that first one company shall begin, and afterwards the rest of the freeholders or any of them have Liberty to set up another Company provided they make a tender to those freeholders that have no share in the first company and if any refuse the rest may go on themselves, and the town doth engage that no other Company shall be allowed hereafter; also, whoever kill any whales, of the Company or Companies aforesaid, they are to pay to the Town for every such whale five shillings and for the Incoragement of the said James Loper the Town doth grant him ten acres of Land in sume Convenant place that lie may chuse in (Wood Land Except) and also liberty for the commonage of three cows and Twenty sheep and one horse with necessary wood and water for his use, on Conditions that he follow the trade of whalling on this Island two years in all seasons thereof beginning the first of March next Insuing; also he is to build upon his Land and when he leaves Inhabiting upon this Island then he is first to offer his Land to the Town at a valuable price and if the Town do not buy it he may sell it to whom he please; the commonage is granted only for the time of his staying here."47
At the same meeting John Savidge had a grant made to him, upon condition that lie took up his residence on the island for the space of three years, and also that he should "follow his trade of a cooper upon the island as the Town or whale Company have need to employ him." Loper beyond a doubt never improved this opportunity offered him of immortalizing himself, but Savidge did, and a perverse world has, against his own will, banded down to posterity the name of Loper, who did not come, while it has rather ignored that of Savidge, who did remove to that island.
The history of whaling upon Nantucket from that time until 1690 is rather obscure. There is a tradition among the islanders that in this year several persons were standing upon what was afterward known as Folly House Hill, observing the whales spouting and sporting in the sea. One of these people, pointing to the ocean, said to the others: "There is a green pasture, where our children's grandchildren will go for bread."48 It would be a matter of interest to know the name of the individual to whom this prophetic vision was revealed, but tradition is almost always lame somewhere. In 1690 the people of Nantucket, "finding that the people of Cape Cod had made greater proficiency in the art of whale-catching than themselves," sent thither and employed Ichabod Paddock to remove to the island and instruct them in the best method of killing whales and obtaining the oil.49 Judging from subsequent events, he must have come and proved himself a good teacher and they most admirable pupils.
The earliest mention of whales at Martha's Vineyard occurs in November, 1652, when Thomas Daggett and William Weeks were appointed "whale cutters for this year." The ensuing April it was "Ordered by the town that the whale is to be cut out freely, four men at one time, and four at another, and so every whale, beginning at the east end of the town." In 1690 Mr.50 Sarson and William Vinson were appointed by "the proprietors of the whale" to oversee the cutting and sharing of all whales cast on shore within the bounds of Edgartown, "they to have as much for their care as one cutter."
In 1692 came the inevitable dispute of proprietorship. A whale was cast on shore at Edgartown by the proprietors, "seized by Benjamin Smith and Mr. Joseph Norton in their behalf," which was also claimed by "John Steel, harpooner, on a whale design, as being killed by him." It was settled by placing the whale in the custody of Richard Sarson, esq., and Mr. Benjamin Smith, as agents of the proprietors, to save by trying out and securing the oil; "and that no distribution be made of the said whale, or effects, till after fifteen days are expired after the date hereof, that so such persons who may pretend an interest or claim, in the whale, may make their challenge; and in case such challenge appear sufficient to them, then they may deliver the said whale or oyl to the challenger; otherwise to give notice to the proprietors, who may do as the matter may require."
Mr. Felt, in his History of Salem,51 says that James Loper, of that town, in 1688, petitioned the colonial government of Massachusetts for a patent for making oil. In his petition Loper represents that he has been engaged in whale-fishing for twenty-two years.
On the 12th of March, 1692, John Higginson and Timothy Lindall, of Salem, wrote to Nathaniel Thomas: "We have been jointly concerned in severall whale voyages at Cape Cod, and have sustained greate wrong and injury by the unjust dealing of the inhabitants of those parts, especially in two instances: ye first was when Woodbury and company, in our boates, in the winter of 1690, killed a large whale in Cape Cod harbour. She sank and after rose, went to sea with a harpoon, warp, etc. of ours, which have been in the hands of Nicholas Eldredge. The second case is this last winter, 169t. William Edds and company, in one of our boates, struck a whale, which came ashore dead, and by ye evidence of the people of Cape Cod was the very whale they killed. The whale was taken away by Thomas Smith, of Eastham, and unjustly detained."52
Nor was the art of whaling unknown or unpracticed by our Canadian neighbors in these early years, for M. de Denonville writes to M. de Seignelay, in 1690, that the Canadians are adroit in whaling, and that the "last ships have brought to Quebec, from Bayonne, some harpooners for Sieur Riverin."53
C. 1700 TO 1750.
NANTUCKET; LONG ISLAND; CAPE COD; SALEM; BOSTON; RHODE ISLAND; MARTHA'S VINEYARD, ETC.
Immediately after the commencement of the eighteenth century the town of Sherburne,54 on the island of Nantucket, advanced rapidly to the front rank among whaling ports. So plentiful was their prey almost at their very doors, as it were, that no difficulty was at first experienced by the islanders in obtaining all the oil they desired without going out of sight of land. "The south side of the island," says a writer,55 "was divided into four equal parts, and each part was assigned to a company of six, which, though thus separated, still carried on their business in common. In the middle of this distance" (of about three and a half miles to each division) "they erected a mast, provided with a sufficient number of rounds, and near it they built a temporary hut where five of the associates lived, whilst the sixth from his high station carefully looked toward the sea, in order to observe the spouting of whales." When one was seen, the boats were launched and the chase commenced. Sometimes, in pleasant weather, the whalemen would venture nearly out of sight of land. A capture once made, the whale was towed ashore and the blubber "saved" after the manner of cutting in on board a vessel. Try-works were erected on the beach, and the blubber, after being cut up and sliced, was subjected to the process of "trying out." These try-works were used for many years after exclusive shore-fishing had ceased, the blubber of the whales captured at sea being cut up into square pieces and stowed into casks on board of the vessels. On the return home this product was removed to the try-houses and the oil extracted. This was substantially the method of carrying on the fishery all along the coast. As the natural consequence of long-continued practice, the inhabitants of Nantucket soon acquired great dexterity in the pursuit. Says St. John: "These people are become superior to any other whalemen."56 In this business many Indians were employed, each boat's crew being manned in part, some wholly, by aborigines, the most active among them being promoted to steersmen, and even at times one of them being allowed to command a boat. Under the stimulus of this encouragement they soon became experienced whalemen and conversant with all the details of the business.57
The first sperm whale taken by Nantucket whalemen was captured by Christopher Hussey, about the year 1712, and the capture, destined to effect a radical change in the pursuit of this business, was the result of an accident. "He was cruising," says Macy,58 "near the shore for Right whales, and was blown off some distance from the land by a strong northerly wind, where he fell in with a school of that species of whales, and killed one and brought it home. * * * * This event gave new life to the business, for they immediately began with vessels of about thirty tons to whale out in the 'deep,' as it was then called, to distinguish it from shore whaling. They fitted out for cruises of about six weeks, carried a few hogsheads, enough probably to contain the blubber of one whale, with which, after obtaining it, they returned home. The owners then took charge of the blubber, and tried out the oil, and immediately sent the vessels out again."59 In 1715 Nantucket had six sloops engaged in this fishery, producing oil to the value of £1,100 sterling, the shore fishery being, in the mean time, still continued. There was no perceptible diminution in the number of whales taken from along the coast for quite a number of years after the establishment of the fishery.
In 1720 the inhabitants of Nantucket made a small shipment of oil to London in the ship Hanover, of Boston, William Chadder, master.60 Whether this was the first adventure of this kind or not we have no means of ascertaining, and we are in a similar state of uncertainty in regard to its success. As the fishery became more important, and vessels were used, it became necessary to select the site where there was the best harbor, and the location where the town of Nantucket now stands was selected.61 As the number of vessels increased it was also found necessary to replace the old landing-places, which at best were only temporary, and often destroyed by winter storms, with more subtantial wharves, and accordingly, in 1723, the "Straight" wharf was built.62 At this time the usual custom in winter was to haul the vessels and boats up on shore, as being safer and less expensive than lying at the wharf. The boats were placed bottom upwards and lashed together to prevent accidents in gales of wind, and the whaling "craft" was carefully stored in the warehouses. In the early days of whaling each vessel carried two boats, one of which seems to have been held in reserve in case of accident to the one lowered for whales.
In 1730 Nantucket employed in the fishery twenty-five vessels of from 38 to 50 tons burden each, and the returns were about 3,700 barrels of oil, worth, at £7 per ten, £3,200. Holmes says:63 ,The whale-fishery on the North American coasts must, at this time" (1730), "have been very considerable; for there arrived in England from these coasts, about the month of July, 151 tons of train and whale oil, and 9,200 of whale bone." At this time there were nearly five hundred ships, manned by four thousand sailors, engaged in foreign traffic from Massachusetts.64
The culminating point of shore-whaling at Nantucket was probably reached in 1726. During that year there were 86 whales taken by boats, and the Coffins and Gardners, the Folgers, the Husseys, the Swains and Paddacks, the progenitors of that race of men who carried the name and fame of the little island of Nantucket to every accessible port on the globe, are chief among those who gathered this harvest.65
The first recorded loss of a whaling-vessel from the island occurred in 1724, when a sloop, of which Elisha Coffin was master, was lost at sea with all on board.66 The second loss was that of another sloop, Thomas Hathaway master, in 1731. These losses were a serious matter for a small whaling-port, where nearly all the inhabitants were related by birth or marriage. In the year 1742 still another sloop, commanded by Daniel Paddack, was lost while on a whaling-voyage, with all on board.
An increase in the business brought with it an increase in the number and size of the vessels employed. Schooners were added, and the size of the vessels increased to between 40 and 50 tons. Whales began to grow scarce in the vicinity of the shore, and still larger vessels were put into the service and sent to the "southward" as it was termed, cruising on that ground till about the first of July, when they returned, refitted, and cruised to the eastward of the Grand Bank during the remainder of the whaling season, unless, as was often the case, they filled sooner. Vessels for this service were generally "sloops of 60 or 70 tons; their crews were made up, in part, of Indians,"67 there being generally from four to eight natives to each vessel.
But the time came when Nantucket did not furnish men enough to man the whaling-vessels which the islanders desired to fit out, and Cape Cod, and even Long Island, were called in to supply the deficiency of seamen. It naturally occurred that, with the limited colonial demand, the business became at times overdone, the market glutted, and what oil was sold was disposed of at too low a price to be as remunerative as the islanders thought it should be. The people began to think of another market. For a series of years they had made Boston their factor, selling there their oil and drawing from thence their supplies.68 Probably had their oil commanded the price which they considered it should have brought, this state of affairs might long have continued, but such was not the case. "It was found," says Macy,69 "that Nantucket had in many places become famed for whaling, and particularly so in England, where partial supplies of oil had been received through the medium of the Boston trade. The people, finding that merchants in Boston were making a good profit by first purchasing oil at Nantucket, then ordering it to Boston, and thence shipping it to London, determined to secure the advantages of the trade to themselves, by exporting their oil in their own vessels. They had good prospects of success in this undertaking, yet, it being a new one, they moved with great caution, for they knew that a small disappointment would lead to embarrassments that would, in the end, prove distressing. They, therefore, loaded and sent out one vessel, about the year 1745. The result of this small beginning proved profitable, and encouraged them to increase their shipments by sending out other vessels. They found, in addition to the profits on the sales, that the articles in return were such as their business required, viz, iron, hardware, hemp, sailcloth, and many other goods, and at a much cheaper rate than they had hitherto been subjected to." This naturally gave renewed life to the enterprise, and induced the fitting of new vessels and the development of new adventurers. The sky was not always fair, not every voyage proved remunerative, but the business as a whole steadily increased in importance and profit. At about this time (1746), according to Macy's History, whaling was commenced by our people in Davis's Straits.70
The transfer of the trade of Long Island to Boston and Connecticut was a source of great uneasiness to the early governors of New York. They were repeatedly stirred up on the subject by the lords of trade in England, but with all their trouble and skill and efforts they were unable to alienate the sympathies of the Long Islanders from those who were their friends both by birth and association. They had but little in common with the New York government, which seemed to them only the symbol of wrong, injustice, and oppression. The governors of that province were numerous and tyrannical, and the people had no redress. The boast of one of them that be would tax them so high that they would have no time to think of anything else but paying these duties, seemed to be resolved into a motto adopted by the majority, and the groanings and writhings of the people only seemed to serve as the excuse for another turn of the screws of executive tyranny.
In June, 1703, Lord Conbury, in a letter to the lords of trade,71 speaking of the difficulties the commerce of New York had to contend with from the position of some parts of its territory in relation to Connecticut and Massachusetts, writes that Connecticut fills that part of Long Island with European goods cheaper than New York can, since New York pays a duty which is not assessed by Connecticut; "nor will they" (the inhabitants of the east end of Long Island) "be subject to the Laws of Trade nor to the Acts of Navigation, by which means there has for some time been no Trade between the City of New Yorke and the East end of Long Island, from whence the greater quantity of Whale oyle comes." He adds that the people are full of New England principles, and would rather trade with Boston, Connecticut, and Rhode Island than with New York.
In 1708, however, under Lord Cornbury, an act was passed for the "Encouragement of Whaling," in which it was provided, 1st, that any Indian, who was bound to go to sea whale-fishing, should not "at any time or times between the First Day of November and the Fifteenth Day of April following, yearly, be sued arrested, molested, detained or kept out of that Imployment by any person or persons whatsoever, pretending any Contract, Bargain Debt or Dues unto him or them except and only for or concerning any Contract, Debt or Bargain relating to the Undertaking and Design of the Whale-fishing and not otherwise under the penalty of paying treble Costs to the Master of any such Indian or Indians so to be sued, arrested, molested or detained." Section 2 provided that "if any person or persons shall purchase, take to pawn or anyways get or receive any Cloathing, Gun or other Necessaries that his Master shall let him, from any such Indian or Indians or suffer any such Indian to be drinking or drunk in or about their Houses, when they should be at Sea, or other business belonging to that Design of Whale-fishing or shall carry or cause to be carried any Drink to them, whereby such Indians are made incapable of doing their Labour and Duty in and about their Master's Service," within the date above named, shall be compelled to restore the articles taken, and forfeit to the master the sum of thirty shillings. This act was to be in force seven years after publication, but it did not finally become a law until June 10, 1710. It was renewed in 1716 for four years longer,72 and again in 1720 for a further term of six years.73
In July, 1708, Lord Cornbury writes again to the board of trade regarding New York affairs.74 In his letter be says: "The quantity of Train Oyl made in Long Island is very uncertain, some years they have much more fish than others, for example last year they made four thousand Barrils of Oyl, and this last Season they have not made above Six hundred: About the middle of October they begin to look out for fish, the Season lasts all November, December, January, February, and part of March; a Yearling will make about forty Barils of Oyl, a Stunt or Whale two years old will make sometimes fifty, sometimes sixty Barrils of Oyl, and the largest whale that I have heard of in these Parts, yielded one hundred and ten barrels of Oyl, and twelve hundred Weight of Bone."
In 1709 the fishery had attained such value on Long Island that some parties attempted to reduce it, so far as possible, to a monopoly, and grants of land previously made by Governor Fletcher and others, in a reckless and somewhat questionable manner were improved for personal benefit. Earl Bellomont, in commenting on these irregular practices, writes to the lords of trade, under date of July 2 of that year,75 citing, among others, one Colonel Smith, who, he states, "has got the beach on the sea shore for fourty miles together, after an odd manner as I have been told by some of the inhabitants * * * * * * having forced the town of Southampton to take a poore £10 for the greatest part of the said beach, which is not a valuable consideration in law, for Colonel Smith himself own'd to me that that beach was very profitable to him for whale fishing, and that one year he cleared £500, by whales taken there."
In 1716, Samuel Mulford, of Easthampton, in a petition to the King, gave a sketch of the progress of this industry in that vicinity.76 In the recital of the grievances of his neighbors and himself, he writes that a the inhabitants of the said Township and parts adjacent did from the first Establishment of the said Colony of New York enjoy the Privilege & Benefit of fishing for whale & applying ye same to their own use as their undoubted right and property."77 By his petition it appears further that in 1664 Governor Nicolls and council directed that drift-whales should pay a duty of every sixteenth gallon of oil to the government, "exempting the whales that were killed at Sea by persons who went on that design from any duty or imposition." Governor Dongan also claimed duty on drift-whales, and be also exempted those killed at sea. "There was no pretence," under Dongan, "to seize such whales or to exact anything from the fishermen on that account, being their ancient right and property. Thus the inhabitants had the right of fishing preserved to them, and the Crown the benefit of all drift Whales, and everything seemed well established between the Crown and the People, who continued chearfully, and with success, to carry on the said fishing trade." This state of affairs continued until 1696, when Lord Cornbury (afterward Earl of Clarendon) became governor. It was then announced by those in authority that the whale was a "Royal Fish," and belonged to the Crown; consequently all whalers must be licensed "for that purpose which he was sure to make them pay for, and also contribute good part of the fruit of their labour; no less that a neat 14th part of the Oyle and Bone, when cut up, and to bring the same to New York an 100 miles distant from their habitation, an exaction so grievous, that few people did ever comply for it."78 The result of this policy was to discourage the fishery, and its importance was sensibly decreased. In 1711 the New York authorities issued a writ to the sheriffs, directing them to seize all whales. This demand created much disturbance, but the people, knowing no remedy, submitted with what grace they could to what they felt was a grievous wrong, and an infringement upon their rights under the patent under which their settlement was founded. Since that time, Mulford continues, a formal prosecution had been commenced against him for hiring Indians to assist him in whaling. He concludes his petition with the assertion that, unless some relief was afforded, the fishery must be ruined, since "the person concerned will not be brought to the hardship of waiting out at sea many months, & the difficulty of bringing into New York the fish, and at last paying so great a share of their profit."
Mulford, during the latter part of his life, was continually at loggerheads with the government at New York. A sturdy representative of that Puritan opposition to injustice and wrong with which the early settlers of Eastern Long Island were so thoroughly imbued, the declining years of his life were continual eras of contention against the tyrannies and exactions of governors, whose only interest seemed to be to suck the life-blood from the bodies of these unfortunate flies caught in their spider's net, and cast the useless remains remorselessly away. He was one of the remonstrants against the annexation of the eastern towns to the New York government, and from 1700 to 1720 was the delegate from these towns to the assembly. In 1715 the opposition of the government to his constituency reached the point of a personal conflict with him. In a speech delivered in the assembly in this year, he boldly and unsparingly denounced the authorities as tyrannical, extravagant, and dishonest. He cited numerous instances of injustices from officers of the customs to the traders of and to his section. While grain was selling in Boston at 6s. per bushel, and only commanding one-half of that in New York, his people were compelled by existing laws to lose this difference in value. While the government was complaining of poverty and the lack of disposition on the part of the people to furnish means for its subsistence, the governor had received, says Mulford, during the past three years, three times the combined income of the governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. In 1716 the assembly ordered this speech to be put into the hands of the speaker, but Mulford, without hesitation, caused it to be published and circulated.79 From this time forth the war upon him was, so far as the government was concerned, a series of persecutions, but Mulford undauntedly braved them all and in the end was triumphant. Quite a number of letters passed between the governor and himself, and between them both and the lords of trade in London. As an earnest of the feeling his opposition had stirred up, the governor commenced a suit against him in the supreme court, the judges of which owed their appointment to the executive. Shortly after this, Governor Hunter, in a communication to the lords of trade regarding the state of affairs in the province,writes that he is informed that Mulford, who "has continually flown in face of government," and always disputed with the Crown the right of whaling, has gone to London to urge his case.80 He states that "that poor, troublesome old man" is the only mutineer in a province otherwise quiet (an assertion that evidenced either a reckless disregard for truth, or a want of knowledge of affairs inexcusably culpable); that the case he pleads has been brought before the supreme court and decided against him, and Mulford is the only man who disputes the Crown's right, and the good governor charitably recommends their lordships to "bluff him."81 Still later, Hunter states that it was the custom long before his arrival to take out whaling licenses. Many came voluntarily and did so. If whaling is "decayed," it was not for want of whalemen, for the number increases yearly; "but the truth of the matter is, that the Town of Boston is the Port of Trade of the People inhabiting that end of Long Island of late years, so that the exportation from hence of that commodity must in the Books be less than formerly." The perquisites arising from the sale of these licenses were of no account in themselves, but yielding in this matter would only open a gap for the disputation of ever perquisite of the government.82
To this the lords of trade reply:83 "You intimate in your letter to our Secretary of 22d November last that the Whale fishery is reserved to the Crown by your Patents: as we can find no such thing in your Commission, you will explain what you mean by it." Mulford is now in London, and desires dispatch in the decision in regard to this matter, pending which the lords desire to know whether dues have been paid by any one; if so, what amount has been paid, and to what purpose this revenue has been applied.84 They close their letter with the following sentence, which would hardly seem open to any danger of misconstruction: "Upon this occasion we must observe to you, that we hope you will give all due incouragement to that Trade." Evidently the case of Mulford vs. Hunter looks badly for the governor. Still, Hunter is loth to yield readily, and the discussion is further prolonged.
It is now 1718. Governor Hunter, in his answer to the inquiries of their lordships,85 says Commission was issued giving power, "Cognoscendi de Flotsam, Jetsom, Lagon, Deodandis, &c.," follows "et de Piscibus Regalibus Sturgeonibus, Balenis Coetis Porpetus Delphinis Reggis, &c." In regard to the income, he again writes that it is inconsiderable; that only the danger of being accused of giving up the Crown's right would have led him to write about it. In amount, it was not £20 per annum, (corroboratory of Mulford's assertion of its decline), and as the fish had left this coast, he should not further trouble them about it. Up to the present time all but Mulford had paid and continued to pay. The subject appears to have been finally referred to the attorney-general, and the governor says (1719), waiting his opinion, he has surceased all demands till it comes. The question must have been left in a state of considerable mistiness, however, for in 1720 Governor Burnett informs the lords,86 in a letter which indicates a satisfied feeling of compromise between official dignity and the requirements of the trade, that he remits the five per centum on the whale-fishery, but asserts the King's rights by still requiring licenses, though in "so doing he neglects his own profit," "and this," he adds, "has a good effect on the country." Under his administration the act for the encouragement of the whale-fishery was renewed.
In 1706 some of the inhabitants of Eastham and parts adjacent (ineluding, as one of the names seems to indicate, Nantucket) presented to the general court a petition,87 setting forth that the parties "whose names are hereunto subscribed, being Inhabitants of Eastham and other places thereunto adjoining, In regard all or most of us are concerned in fitting out Boats to Catch & take Whales when ye season of ye year Serves: and whereas when wee have taken any whale or whales, our Custom is to cutt them up, and to take away ye fatt and ye Bone of such Whales as are brought in, And afterwards to let ye Rest of ye Boddy of ye Lean of whales Lye on shoar in lowe water to be washt away by ye sea, being of noe vallue nor worth any Thing to us;" therefore they petition for an act of the court to permit Thomas Houghton, of Boston, or his assigns, to take and carry away all this waste, and endeavor, for the space of ten years, to put it to some profitable use, all other persons in New England to be in the mean time "forbidden, discharged, and restrained to make any further use of it than is now usually made, with a penalty on such as presume to doe it during yt time without ye Consent and allowance of ye said Thom: Houghton or his Assignes." With an eye to future commercial prosperity, they allege the following reasons why the patent, if granted, will inure to their benefit: "first ... It will cause more staves to be fetcht and brought in from other places as well as our own, and more Barrells made, and soe more Coopers will be sett at Work, with other hands to build houses for ye use of it. secondly. It will imploy our people to cutt it up, and to order it according to his direction, at such convenient houses and places as he appoints. Thirdly When tis ordered and prepared as hee or his Assignes would have it, it will implye our Sloopes to carry it to Boston, or to such places as hee or they direct, wich will be an advantage to us. Fourthly If any Improvement can be made of it for Exportation, it will not only be of great advantage to Boston, but to many of ye Inhabitants of New England." (This is signed by Simon, Nathll Coffin, John Jones.)
To this is appended a postscript, stipulating that said Houghton employ the inhabitants of the whaling-towns as much as possible for his work; that he shall give the public the benefit of his discovery, if made, at the end of the ten years; and that he shall pay each whale-man "one shilling in money acknowledgment for their several shares in the Lean of the whale fishes that they shall take for the space of ten years." The postcript is signed "Samll Treat senr, David Mc. * * * * *, Jona sparrow, Samll Knowles, Samll freeman jr, Richard * * * * , Richard Godfree."
The council granted the patent with the somewhat novel proviso: "That within the space of Four years he shew forth to the Satisfaction of the Governr Council & Assembly That his Projection will take effect, for the rayseing of Salt Petre to supply the province."
During the years 1724 and 1725, in the prosecution of the wars between the Indians and the colonists, some of the friendly Indians from Cape Cod were enlisted, with the express understanding that they were to be discharged in time to take part in the fall and winter whale-fishery. Accordingly, in 1724 Lieutenant-Governor Dummer, of the Massachusetts Bay, writes to Colonel Westbrook: "Upon Sight hereof you must forthwith dismiss Cpt. Bournes Compy of Indians & send them hither in one of the Sloops, That so they may lose no Time for Following the Whale Fishery, wch is agreeable to my Promise made to them at Enlisting."88 In a postscript he adds: "Let Capt Bourne come with them to see them safe return'd." And again, in 1725, the secretary writes: "His Honr Having promised the Indians enlisted by Cpt. Bourne (being all those of the County of Barnstable) to dismiss them in the Fall that so they attend their Whale Fishing; directs that you as soon as you have opportunity to send them up to Boston, in Order to their Return Home, & let none of them be detained on any Pretense whatsoever."89
Under date of March 20, 1727, the Boston News-Letter says: "We bear from the Towns on the Cape that the Whale Fishery among them has failed much this Winter, as it has done for several Winters past, but having found out the way of going to Sea Upon that Business, and having had much Success in it, they are now fitting out several Vessels to sail with all Expedition upon that dangerous Design this Spring, more (its tho't) than have ever been sent out from among them."
The same paper, in its issue of February 12, 1730,90 contains the following extract from a letter from Chatham, dated "February 6, 1729-30:"
"There has been a remarkable Providence in the awful death of some of my neighbors; On the day commonly called New Year's Day, a whaleboat's Crew (which Consists of a Stersman, an Harpineer, and Four Oarmen) coming home from a Place called Hog's-Back, where they had been on a Whaling design, the Boat was overset, and all the Men lost, on a reaf of Sand that lies out against Billingsgate. When the Boat was found bottom upward, and the Stern post broken off, there were two Chests found in it, which were wedged so fast under the Thwards that the water had not washed them out; in which were found the Pocket books of two of the Men, by which it plainly appears what Boat it was; but none of the Bodies are, as yet found, that I can hear of; tho they found an iron Pot which they had with them, upon the reaf, and discovered the Whaling Irons at the bottom of the Water, where it is about 8 feet deep.
"P.S. Before I had done writing I had News that two of their Bodies were found."
In March, 1736, the inhabitants of Provincetown captured a large whale at sea, cut him up, and brought the blubber into that port. The estimated quantity of oil that this blubber would produce was 100 barrels.91 In the News-Letter of May 27 of the same year a statement is published to the effect that on the 11th of May a whaling-sloop, of which Solomon Kenwick was master, arrived at Chatham, and reported that while on the voyage, "about forty leagues to the eastward of George's Banks, they struck and wounded two Whales, which then lay upon the Water seemingly in a dying Posture: but one of them suddenly rush'd with great Violence over the midst of one of their Boats, and sunk both the Boat and Men into the Sea; one Man was thereby kill'd outright, and two others much wounded: Tis a wonder they were not all destroy'd, for the Whale continued striking and raging in a most furious Manner in the midst of them (now in the Water) for some Time, but the other Boat came and took them all up (except the Man that was kill'd, who sunk immediately) and carried them safe to the Sloop."
The season of 1737-8 must have been an unfortunate one at Provincetown, for up to January 5, 1738, the people of that town had only killed two small whales, and some of the inhabitants took into serious consideration a change of residence.92 In July, 1738, Captain Anthony Haugh, master of a whaling-vessel, took "in the Straits" a large whale, and brought him to the vessel's side to cut in. In hoisting the blubber into the hold the runner of the block gave way, by which Benjamin Hamlin, of Eastham, was killed instantly.93 In February, 1738, the Yarmouth whalemen had killed but one large whale during the season; the bone of that one was from 8 to 9 feet long.
Nor was the whaling-season of 1738-9 any more successful to the inhabitants of the cape. Up to the 15th of February, 1739 the whaling-season being then over there had been taken at Provincetown but six small and one large whale, and at Sandwich two more small ones. This was the extent of the catch.94 As a result of two successive poor seasons, many of the people of Provincetown were in straitened circumstances and much distressed. Those depending upon the early spring whaling "returned as they went, only more in debt." Many of them were without money or provisions.95
Early in 1741 the French and Spanish privateers commenced their depredations upon the English commerce. Naturally our whaling-vessels came in for their proportion of loss. In May a Spanish privateer, under Don. Francisco Lewis, captured a whaling-vessel from Barnstable, commanded by Capt. Solomon Sturgis, "dismissed the captain and eight Hands, carried away the Sloop and four Hands, and put in John Davis, Mate of said Sloop."96 It The seasons still continued unfavorable for the coast-whaling on the cape,97 but late in the summer and during the early fall of 1741 the inhabitants of that section were cheered by an unexpected success. Great numbers of porpoises and black fish came swarming into the bay, and the hardy fishermen lost no time in attacking them. By the close of October they had killed 150 porpoises and over 1,000 black fish, yielding them about 1,500 barrels of oil, for the most of which they found an immediate sale. "This unexpected Success so late in the Year, put new Life into Some who had spent all the former Season of the Year in Toil and Labour to little or no Purpose." 98
The presence of privateers on the coast appears to have entirely prevented the prosecution of the Davis Strait whaling, for no departures to or arrivals from that region are reported for several years. Whalemen were liable to be overhauled anywhere, but it is to be presumed that the risk became greater as the distance from port increased. Occasionally these privateers would swoop down through Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and bear off whatever came in their way that they were able to take care of. Such a raid was made in the middle of the summer of 1744. One Captain Roach, in a vessel from Cape Cod, arrived in Boston and reported that on the 24th of June, just before night, being in a sloop from Nantucket for Boston, with a cargo of 330 barrels of oil, the weather being calm and his vessel somewhat in advance of the others, another sloop came up showing but few men on deck and hoisting the English flag. Captain Roach, suspecting in spite of her appearance that she was an enemy, and being only about two miles from the shore, took out the most necessary things, and, putting them into his boat, escaped with his crew to the shore. As soon as the pursuer found the sloop was abandoned, he sent a boat of armed men to her, took possession of her, and carried her off. The same vessel, which proved to be a French privateer, took in September several coasting and merchant vessels and one Nantucket whaling-vessel, and landed many of her prisoners on the island of Nantucket.99
The facts in regard to whaling at Salem and vicinity from 1700 to 1750 are very meager. Undoubtedly the business was carried on all through this section in the early part of 1700 in a small way. In 1700 John Higginson writes concerning the business there and at other portions of the coast: "We have a considerable quantitie of whale oil and bone for exportation."100 Again, in 1706, he writes to a friend in Ipswich, as one concerned with others in boats engaged in whaling. Here, as elsewhere, there were drift-whales, and in 1722-'23 public101 notices are given to claimants to prove in courts of admiralty their rights in two such cases.102 In August, 1723,a drift-whale is advertised in the Boston News-Letter as ashore at Marblehead, and the usual notice of court is appended.
Whether Boston was at this period a participant in this pursuit is difficult to determine. Various reasons tended to make that port the factor of the colony in that regard. Vessels from the whole colony cleared from there to go to the northward whaling, while those from Nantucket, the Vineyard, and the south shore of the cape pursued their southern voyages along the edge of the Gulf Stream to the Leeward and Cape de Verde Islands under clearances from Newport, R. I. In the absence of the custom-house records of Boston prior to 1776,103 it is impossible to determine which of the numerous clearances and entries are whaleman, and equally impossible to determine to what port they belonged. Referring to the files of the colonial gazettes of this period, we find in the News-Letter of September 3, 1722, an advertisement of a court of admiralty to be held to adjudicate on a drift-whale found floating near Brewster's, and towed ashore in August. It was much wasted and decayed, and in cutting it up a ball was found, indicating that it had been attacked by some party, and the advertisement notifies the public that "If any Persons can try any Claim to said Whale so as to make out a property," they should appear at the said court at Boston on the last Wednesday in the month.104 On the 5th of December, 1723, "Mr. Peter Butler, of Boston," advertises for sale, "lately Imported from London, extraordinary good Whale Warps at 16d. a Pound, which are made of the finest Hemp, either by the Quoile or less Quantity."105 In 1730 Samuel Torrey, currier, on Water street, Boston, advertises "Good Blubber by the Barrel or Tun, full Bound."
In 1731 the Rhode Island assembly passed an act for the encouragement of the whale and cod fisheries, giving "a bounty of five shillings for every barrel of whale oil, one penny a pound for bone, and five shillings a quintal for codfish, caught by Rhode Island vessels and brought into this colony * * * to be paid from the interest accruing upon a new bank, or issue bills of credit to the amount of sixty thousand pounds."106 The whale-fishery had, according to Arnold,107 long been. carried on in a small way within that colony, and whales had frequented Narragansett Bay and often been taken with boats. This bounty gave something of a stimulus to the business, and these colonists too began to "whale out into the deep," and in 1733 the first regularly equipped whaleman of which Rhode Island has any record arrived in Newport from her voyage, having on board 114 barrels of oil and 200 pounds of bone. This sloop was the Pelican, of Newport, Benjamin Thurston, owner, and she received the bounty according to the law.108
By the inhabitants of Martha's Vineyard, in 1702-'3, there appear to have been several whales killed. The following entry occurs under that date in the court records:
"The marks of the whales killed by John Butler and Thomas Lothrop. One whale lanced near or over the shoulder blade, near the left shoulder blade only; another killed with an iron forward in the left side, marked W; and upon the right side marked with a pocket-knife T. L.; and the other had an iron hole over the right shoulder-blade, with two lance holes in the same side, one in the belly. These whales were all killed about the middle of February last past; all great whales, betwixt six and seven and eight foot bone, which are all gone from us. A true account given by John Butler from us, and recorded Per me, Thomas Trapp, Clerk."109
It is quite probable that deep-sea whaling did not commence at the Vineyard until about the year 1738. In that year Joseph Chase, of Nantucket, removed there, taking with him his sloop, the Diamond, of about 40 tons burden. He purchased a house and about 20 acres of land on the shores of Edgartown Harbor, erected a wharf with a try-house near, and commenced the fishery with his vessel. He followed this pursuit two or three years, till finally his ill success caused him to abandon it.
The year succeeding Chase's immigration James Claghorn purchased a small sloop of 40 tons, called the Leopard, and fitted her for the business. Two or three years' experience served to give him a distaste for it, and he sold out and retired from the contest with a loss of about $500, a large sum for those days.
In 1742 John Harper, of Nantucket, removed to the Vineyard, carrying with him the sloop Humbird, of about 45 tons. For several years he too followed whaling, in his sloop and in other vessels; but the same ill success that attended Chase and Clagborn visited also the standard of Harper, and finding himself running behind-hand year after year, he too sold out his shipping and withdrew.
Undeterred by the misfortunes of the others, John Newman, with partners, in 1744 bought the sloop Susannah, of 55 tons, and they continued nearly one year. In the fall, the corn crop on the Vineyard proving insufficient, Samuel Finley was sent in command of her to the southward for a load of that grain, and on the return passage the vessel was cast away on the Carolina coast, and with her cargo totally lost.
D. 1750 TO 1784.
NANTUCKET; MARTHA'S VINEYARD; CAPE COD; BOSTON; LONG ISLAND; RHODE ISLAND; NEW BEDFORD; WILLIAMSBURGH, &C.
The period from 1750 to 1784 was the most eventful era to the whale-fishery that it has ever passed through. For a large proportion of the time the business was carried on under imminent risk of capture, first by the Spanish and French and after by the English. The colonial Davis Strait fishery seems to have been quite abandoned, and the vessels cruised mostly to the eastward of the Grand Banks, along the edge of the Gulf Stream and in the vicinity of the Bahamas. In 1748 the English Parliament had passed a second act to encourage this fishery. By it the premium on inspection of masts, yards, and bowsprits, tar, pitch, and turpentine, and on British-made sail-cloth were to continue, and the duties on foreign-made sail-cloth were remitted to vessels engaged in this pursuit. A bounty was also granted on all ships engaged in whaling during the then existing war; harpooners and others employed in the Greenland fishery were exempted from impressment. The commissioners of customs were, under the required certificate, to pay the second twenty shillings per ton bounty granted by Parliament over the first twenty previously granted.110 The ships which had sailed during the previous March or April were to be equal sharers in this bounty with those whose sailing had been delayed. All ships built or fitted out for this pursuit from the American colonies conforming to this act were to be licensed to whale, and in order to receive the bounties must remain in Davis Straits or vicinity from May (sailing about May 1) until the 20th of August, unless sooner full or obliged to return by accident. Foreign Protestants serving in this fishery for two years, and qualifying themselves for its prosecution, were to be treated as though they were natives.111 The cause of this concession to the colonies was a part of Lord Shirley's scheme to rid Acadia of the French. It was his desire that George II should cause them to be removed to some other English colony, and settle Nova Scotia with Protestants,112 and to this end invitations were sent throughout Europe to induce Protestants to remove thither. "The Moravian Brethren were attracted by the promise of exemption from oaths and military service. The good will of New England was encouraged by care for its fisheries; and American whalemen, stimulated by the promise of enjoying an equal bounty with the British, learned to follow their game among the icebergs of the Greenland seas."113 "The New Englanders of this period," says Bancroft.114 "were of homogeneous origin, nearly all tracing their descent to the English emigrants of the reigns of Charles the First and Charles the Second. They were a frugal and industrious race. Along the seaside, wherever there was a good harbor, fishermen, familiar with the ocean, gathered in hamlets; and each returning season saw them with an ever-increasing number of mariners and vessels, taking the cod and mackerel, and sometimes pursuing the whale into the icy labyrinths of the Northern seas; yet loving home, and dearly attached to their modest freeholds."
Of this period Hutchinson says: 115 "The increase of the consumption of oil by lamps as well as by divers manufactures in Europe has been no small encouragement to our whale-fishery. The flourishing state of the island of Nantucket must be attributed to it. The cod and whale fishery, being the principal source of our returns to Great Britain, are therefore worthy not only of provincial but national attention."
A continual succession of foreign wars, in which the hardy fishermen and farmers of New England were constantly called to the aid of England, coupled with a continual succession of intolerant measures adopted by the mother country toward the plantations, which, in common with the colonists at large, they felt impelled to resist, was gradually preparing America for the eventful struggle which was to end in its independence. By the experience of the wars they learned their strength, through the pressure of the tyrannical acts they learned their rights.
Pending the expedition for the reduction of Nova Scotia in 1755 an embargo was laid upon the "bank" fishermen, though the risk of capture was so great that it of itself must have quite effectively embargoed many of them.116
In 1757 the embargo being still continued upon the fishery in these waters a petition was presented to the general court of Massachusetts from the people of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, representing that the memorialists
"being Informed that your Honours think it not advisable to Permit the fishermen to Sail on their Voyages untill the time limited by the Embargo is Expired by Reason that their fishing banks where they Usually proceed on said Voyages lyes Eastward not far from Cape breton which may be a means of their falling into the hands of the french which may be of bad Consequence to the Common Cause. Your Memorialists would Humbly observe to Your Honours that that is not the Case with the whalemen their procedure oil their Voyages is Westward of the Cape of Virginia and southward of that untill the month of June from which Your Memorialists are of the mind their is nothing like the Danger of their falling into the hands of the Cape breton Privateers as would be If they went Eastward. Your Memorialists would further Observe that the whalemen have almost double the Number of hands that the fishermen Carry which makes Their Charge almost Double to that of fishermen and ye first part of the Whale season is Always Esteemed the Principal time for their making their Voyages which If they lose the greatest part of the People will have nothing to Purchase the Necessaries of life withal they haveing no other way which must make them in miserable Situation.
"Your memorialists would therefore beg that yr Honours would take Our Miserable Situation under Consideration and grant our Whalemen liberty to Proceed on Our Voyages from this time If it be Consistent with your Great wisdom as in duty bound shall ever pray
"JOHN NORTON (for Martha's Vineyard)
"ABISHAI FOLGER117 (for Nantucket)"
In compliance with the foregoing petition the Council passed this resolution (April S, 1758):
"Inasmuch as the Inhabitants of Nantucket most of whom are Quakers are by Law exempted from Impresses for military Service. And their Livelihood intirely depends on the Whale fishery Advised that his Excelly give permission for all whaling Vessels belong to sd Ild to pursue their Voyages, taking only the Inhts of sd Island in sd Vessells and that upon their taking any other persons whatsoever with them they be subject to all the Penalties of the law in like manner as if they had proceeded without Leave."118
In 1761 the fishery of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Straits of Bellisle was opened to our whalemen, and they speedily availed themselves of its wealth. This was the legitimate result of the conquest of Canada and the cession of territory made by France to England at the conclusion of the war, a result which the colonists had labored hard and spent lives and treasure unstintedly to attain, but of the benefit of which they were destined to be defrauded. A duty was levied on all oil and bone carried to England from the colonies, and by another oppressive act of Parliament they were not allowed to find for this product any other market. The discrimination between the plantations and the mother country was made the more marked since at this time the residents of Great Britain were allowed a bounty from which the provincials were debarred. Against these injustices the merchants of New England, and those of London engaged in colonial trade, respectfully petitioned. They represented that "in the Year 1761 The Province of Massachusetts Bay, fitted out from Boston & other ports119 Ten Vessels of from Seventy to Ninety Tons Burden for this Purpose. That the Success of these was such as to encourage the Sending out of fifty Vessels in the Year 1762 for the same trade. That in the Year 1763 more than Eighty Vessels were imploy'd in the same manner.120 That they have already imported to London upwards of 40 Ton of Whale Finn: being the produce of the two first years. That upon Entring of the above Finn, a Duty was required and paid upon it, of thirty one Pound ten shillings [per]Ton. That the weight of this Duty was render'd much heavier by the great reduction made in the price of Dutch Bone since the commencement of this Trade from £500 to £330 [per] Ton." They represent further that the reason for the conferring of bounties upon vessels in this pursuit from Great Britain was to rival the Dutch,121 but in spite of this encouragement there was not enough oil and bone brought into England by British vessels to supply the demand. They also reasoned that Parliament could not intentionally discriminate between the various subjects of the Crown, granting to one a bounty and requiring of another a duty for the same service. They however ask for no bounty they are content that Great Britain should alone receive the benefit of that but they simply desire that they should not be taxed with a duty on these imports.122
The knowledge that the English fishery, even with its bounty, was still unable to fully cope with the Dutch, or even to supply its own home demand, as well as the desire of Earl Grenville to forward certain projects in his American policy, notably the odious stamp-tax, caused some attention to be paid to petitions similar to the foregoing, fortified somewhat by the presence of a special agent from Massachusetts to sustain the position and urge the claims there made. To various sections various tenders were to be made. "The boon that was to mollify New England," says Bancroft,123 "was concerted with Israel Maudit, acting for his brother, the agent of Massachusetts, and was nothing less than the whale-fishery. Great Britain had sought to compete with the Dutch in that branch of industry; had fostered it by bounties; had relaxed even the act of navigation, so as to invite even the Dutch to engage in it from British ports in British shipping. But it was all in vain. Grenville gave up the unsuccessful attempt, and sought a rival for Holland in British America, which had hitherto lain under the double discouragement of being excluded from the benefit of a bounty,124 and of having the products of its whale-fishing taxed unequally. He now adopted the plan of gradually giving up the bounty to the British whale-fishery, which would be a saving of £30,000 a year to the treasury, and of relieving the American fishery from the inequality of the discriminating duty, except the old subsidy, which was scarcely 1 per cent. This is the most liberal act of Grenville's administration, of which the merit is not diminished by the fact that the American whale-fishery was superseding the English under every discouragement. It required liberality to accept this result as inevitable, and to favor it. It was done, too, with a distinct conviction that 'the American whale-fishery, freed from its burden, would soon totally overpower the British.' So this valuable branch of trade, which produced annually three thousand pounds, and which would give employment to many shipwrights and other artificers, and to three thousand seamen, was resigned to America"
With the people of Nantucket every foreign war meant a diminution of their whaling-fleet, for there is scarcely any risk that whalemen have not and will not run in pursuit of their prey. During the years 1755 and 1756, six of their vessels had been lost at sea and six more were taken by the French and burned, together with their cargoes, while the crews were carried away into captivity. In 1760 another vessel was captured by a French privateer of 12 guns and released after the commander of the privateer had put on board of her the crew of a sloop they had previously taken nearly full of oil and burned. The captain of the sloop, Luce, had sailed with three others who were expected on the coast. The day after Luce was taken, the privateer engaged a Bermudian letter of marque and was beaten. During this engagement several whalemen in the vicinity made their escape. In the same month (June) another privateer of 14 guns took several whaling-vessels, one of which was ransomed for $400, all the prisoners put on board of her, and she landed them at Newport.125 In 1762 another Nantucket sloop was taken by a privateer from the French West Indies, under one Mons. Palanqua, while she was cruising in the vicinity of the Leeward Islands.
At Martha's Vineyard whaling did not seem to thrive so well as at the sister island of Nantucket. The very situation of Nantucket seemed favorable for the development of this and kindred pursuits; in fact, the situation made them necessities. While the Vineyard was quite fertile and of considerable extent, Nantucket was comparatively sterile and circumscribed. At the Vineyard a livelihood could be attained from tilling the earth, at Nantucket a large portion of that which sustained life must be wrested from the ocean. A constant struggle with nature, and a constant surmounting of those obstacles incident to their location and surroundings, developed within the Nantucketois a spirit of adventure which was carefully trained into channels of enterprise and usefulness. Hence, the early history of whaling on Martha's Vineyard was not that ultimate success that it was on Nantucket, and while the year 1775 found the latter with a fleet of 150 vessels with a burden of 15,000 tons, the former at the same period could count but 12 vessels and an aggregate of 720 tons.
In 1752 Mr. John Newman and Timothy Coffin built a vessel of 75 tons, but she was also destined to a brief existence. On her second voyage whaling she was captured near the Grand Banks by the French, and Captain Coffin, her commander, lost his life, his vessel, and his cargo. In the same year (1752) John Norton, esq., with others, purchased a vessel of 55 tons for the carrying on of this business, and, like her contemporary, she failed to survive her second voyage, but was cast away on the coast of Carolina, Capt. Christopher Beetle being at the time in command. Mr. Norton immediately chartered a vessel to get his own off, but on their arrival on Carolina, his vessel was gone with her sails, rigging, and appurtenances, and he out of pocket a further sum of $500 to the wrecking party. Eight years later (1760), Esquire Norton, with others, built the sloop Polly, 65 tons burden. On her third whaling trip to the southward she too was lost, and by her destruction perished Nicholas Butler, her captain, and thirteen men. Repeated losses had reduced Norton to somewhat straitened circumstances, and, selling what property he had left, he removed to Connecticut, where he died.
It is impossible to separate in the accounts of whaling at this time the share which Boston took in it from that taken by other ports. The reports which may be found in the current papers rarely gave the name of the port to which entering or clearing vessels belonged. In fact the majority of the reports are merely records of accidents, and it is very rarely indeed that the amount of oil taken by returning whalers is given.
In 1762 a whaling-schooner commanded by Bickford was totally lost on Seil(?) Islands. The crew, fourteen in number, were taken off by a fishing-vessel.126
Of the Long Island fishery the only record accessible is the meager one regarding Sag Harbor. Easthampton, Southampton, and their more immediate neighbors seem to have been supplanted by this younger town.127 Probably prior to 1760 vessels had been fitted for whaling from this port; if so, their identification is impossible. In 1760, however, three sloops were fitted out by Joseph Conkling, John Foster, and others. They were named Goodluck, Dolphin, and Success, and their cruising ground was in the vicinity of 36Ί north latitude.
The reports regarding Rhode Island are equally meager. Occasional reports are to be found of the arrivals of whaling-vessels, but no report of where they cruised or what success they met with, and no records exist at the custom-house to help clear up the historical mist. Warren comes into notice at this period as quite a thriving whaling-port. The Boston News-Letter of October 23, 1766, says: "Several Vessels employed in the Whale Fishery, from the industrious Town of Warren in Rhode Island Colony, have lately returned, having met with considerable success. One Vessel, which went as far as the Western Islands, brought home upwards of 300 Barrels of Oil. Some Vessels from Newport have also been tolerably successful. This Business, which seems to be carried on with Spirit, bids fair to be of great Utility to that Government."
Wiliiamsburgh, Va., felt the stimulus caused by success in this business; and in the early spring of 1751 several gentlemen subscribed a sum of money and fitted out a small sloop, called the "Experiment," for whaling along the southern coast. On the 9th of May, 1751, she returned with a valuable whale. This was the first vessel ever fitted for this pursuit from Virginia, and whether she continued for any length of time in the business is unknown. The encouragement of the first success undoubtedly caused another venture.
In the vicinity of New Bedford whaling probably commenced but little prior to 1760. In that year William Wood, of Dartmouth, sold to Elnathan Eldredge, of the same town, a certain tract of land, located within the present town of Fairhaven, and within three-quarters of a mile of the center of the town, on the banks of the Acushnet River, "Always Excepting and reserving * * * * * that part of the same where the Try house and Oyl shed now stands." How long these buildings had been standing at the date of this deed is unknown, but the fact of their being there then is indisputable, and, as it was not the habit in those days to put up useless buildings, they were undoubtedly applied to the purpose for which they were built. That they were considered valuable property is evident from the fact of their being reserved. In 1765, four sloops, the Nancy, Polly, Greyhound, and Hannah, owned by Joseph Russell, Caleb Russell, and William Tallman, and from 40 to 60 tons burden, were employed in the whale-fisllery.128 In Ricketson's "History of New Bedford" is published a portion of a log-book of the whaling-sloop Betsey, of Dartmouth, in 1761. The early portion is missing, the first date commencing July 27. These small vessels usually sailed in pairs, and, so long as they kept in company, the blubber of the captured whales was divided equally between them. Hence the reports, in which the captains' names are always given instead of the names of the vessels, which rarely occur, often return the vessels in pairs, with tho same quantity of oil to each. The following are a few extracts from this journal as published:
"August 2d, 1761. Lat. 45.54, long. 53.57. Saw two sperm-whales; killed one.
Aug. 6th. Spoke with John Clasbery; he had got 105 bbls.; told us Seth Folger had got 150 bbls. Spoke with two Nantucket men; they had got one whale between them; they told us that Jenkins & Dunham had got four whales between them, and Allen & Pease had got 2 whales between them. Lat. 42.57.
Sunday, August 9th. Saw sperm-whales; struck two, and killed them between us, (naming their consort.
August 10th. Cut up our blubber into casks; filled 35 hhds.; our partner filled 33 hhds. Judged ourselves to be not far from the Banks. Finished stowing the hold.
August 20. Lat. 44 deg. 2 min. This morning spoke with Thomas Gibbs; had got 110 bbls; told us he had spoke with John Aikin, and Ephraim Delano, and Thomas Nye. They had got no oil at all. Sounded; got no bottom. Thomas Gibbs told us we were but two leagues off the Bank."
The Betsey probably arrived home about the middle of September. In 1762 she apparently made another voyage, though the journal up to the 2d of September is missing. On that date they spoke "Shubel Bunker and Benjamin Paddock." On the 3d of September they "Knocked down try-works."129 On the 15th they spoke Henry Folger and Nathan Coffin.
About this time a new element entered into antagonism with colonial whaling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and vicinity. Scarcely had the colonists aided to wrest this fishery from the French, when the English governors, in their turn, strove to keep our vessels from enjoying its benefits. In the News-Letter of August 8, 1765, is the following statement: "Tuesday one of the sloops which has been on the Whaling Business returned here. We hear that the Vessels employed in the Whale Fishery from this and the neighbouring Maritime Towns,130 amounting to near 100 Sail, have been very successful this Season in the Gulph of St. Lawrence and Streights of Belle isle; having, tis said, already made upwards of 9,000 Barrels of Oil." But this rosy-colored report was speedily followed by another of a more somber hue. In August 22 the same paper says: "Accounts received from several of our Whaling Vessels on the Labrador Coast, are, that they meet with Difficulties in regard to their fishing, in Consequence of Orders from the Commanding Officers on that Station, a Copy of which are as follows:
"MEMORANDUM: In Pursuance of the Governor's Directions, all masters of Whaling Vessels, and others whom it may concern, are hereby most strictly required to observe the following Particulars, viz:
- To carry the useless Parts of such Whales as they may catch to at least Three Leagues from the Shore, to prevent the Damage that the neighbouring Fishers for Cod and Seal sustain by their being left on the Shore.
- Not to carry any Passengers from Newfoundland or the Labradore Coast to any Part of the Plantations.
- To leave the Coast by the first of November at farthest.
- Not to fish in any of the Ports or Coasts of Newfoundland lying between Point Richi and Cape Bonavista.
- Not to carry on any Trade or have any Intercourse with the French on any Pretence.
- In all your Dealings with the Indians, to treat them with the greatest Civility: observing not to Impose on their Ignorance, or to take Advantage of their Necessities. You are also on no Account to serve them with spirituous Liquors.
- Not to fish for any other than Whale on this Coast.
"Dated on board His Majesty's sloop Zephyr, at the Isle of Bois, on the Labradore Coast, the 21st July, 1765.
The issue of November 18 reports that on account of this proclamation the vessels "are returning half loaded." It was the custom with many early whalemen, especially from the immediate vicinity of Boston, to go prepared for either cod or whale fishing, and in the event of the failure of the one to have recourse to the other. All restrictions which are sustained by an armed force are liable to be made especially obnoxious by the manner of the enforcement, and this was by no means a contrary case. It was not at all surprising then that the ensuing season's fishing was only a repetition of the failure of that of 1765. "Since our last," says the News-Letter, "several Vessels are returned from the Whaling Business, who have not only had very bad Success, but also have been ill-treated by some of the Cruisers on the Labradore Coast." Two ships had been fitted out from London, the Pallisser and the Labradore, for the express purpose of trading, fishing, and whaling on the coast of Labrador and in the Straits of Belle-isle. Capt. Charles Penn, who came out in them as pilot, left the Straits on the 9th of July on his way to Newfoundland. On his passage he went on board quite a number of whaling-vessels, and reported that they had met with very poor success, had got only about twenty whales in the entire fleet. In consequence of this failure some of them had, according to the time-honored practice, gone to fishing for cod, but had been interrupted by an armed vessel and by the, "company's ships" (the Pallisser and Labradore), and their catch all taken away from them save what their actual necessities required. This was done under the pretence that the whole coast was patented to "the company," and by virtue of orders issued by Hugh Pallisser, "governor of Newfoundland, Anticosti, Magdalenes, and Labradore." Pallisser's proclamation, which bore date of April 3d, 1766, specified that all British subjects whaling in that vicinity should choose places on shore where they should land, cut up their blubber, and make oil as they arrived, but not to select any place which was used in the cod-fishery. Whalemen from the plantations might take whales on those coasts, but were only permitted to land on some unoccupied place within the Gulf of St. Lawrence to cut up and try out their blubber; and it was particularly specified that they were not to make use of any place which was used by the British fishermen for the same or a similar purpose. Complaint having been made of the provincial whilemen in regard to their waste interfering with the cod fishery, they were enjoined that they must carry the carcasses of the whales at least three leagues from the shore. No fishermen from the plantations were to be allowed to winter on Labrador. And then Capt. John Hamilton, "of H. M. sloop of war Merlin, Lieut. Gov. of Labradore," &c., issued his proclamation: "This is to give Notice to all Whalers from the Plantations, that they are allowed to fish for Whales only, on the Coast of Labradore, that if they are found to have any other Fish on Board, the Fish will be seized, and they excluded the Benefit of Whale-fishery this season: and on no Pretence to trade with the Indians; whatever they shall purchase will be confiscated, and after this Notice their Vessels liable to be seized," &c., &c. Capt. Hamilton's decree bore the date of June 25, 17 66.
The result of these arbitrary measures was that the whalemen left those seas and went off the banks. The close of the season witnessed the return of the whaling fleet with but indifferent success.131 Naturaliy those interested (and this included the wealthiest merchants and the most skillful mechanics as well as the most indefatigable mariners) felt aggrieved. It seemed scarcely in consonance with the colonial ideas of justice, crude as those notions appeared to the English nobility, that the beneficial results of a conquest which they almost single-handed had made, and for defraying the expense, of which England had declined any remuneration, should be diverted to the sole benefit of those alone who were residents of the British Isles. Merchants in London, too, whose heaviest and most profitable trade was with the provinces, joined their voices in denouncing this wrong. During the early winter the report came that Palliser's regulations were suspended until the ministry and Parliament had time to consider the subject. The matter had already, late in the last whaling season, been brought to the attention of the governor of Newfoundland, and he issued the following supplementary edict, which appeared in the Boston papers of January, 1767:
"By His Excellency Hugh Palliser, Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland, the Coast of Labradore and all the Territories dependent thereupon
"Whereas a great many Vessels from His Majesty's Plantations employed in the Whale-Fishery resort to that Part of the Gulph of St. Lawrence and the Coast of Labradore which is within this Government and as I have been informed that some Apprehensions have arisen amongst them that by the Regulations made by me relating to the different Fisheries in those Parts, they are wholly precluded from that Coast:
"Notice is hereby given, That the King's Officers stationed in those Parts have always had my Orders to protect, assist and encourage by every Means in their Power, all Vessels from the Plantations employed in the Whale-Fishery, coming within this Government; and, pursuant to his Majesty's Orders to me, all Vessels from the Plantations will be admitted to that Coast on the same Footing as they have ever been admitted in Newfoundland; the ancient Practices and Customs established in Newfoundland respecting the Cod Fishery, Under the Act of Parliament passed in the 10 and 11th Years of William IIId commonly called The Fishing Act, always to be observed.132
"And by my Regulations for the Encouragement of the Whale Fishers, they are also under certain necessary Restrictions therein prescribed, permitted to land and cut up their Whales in Labradore; this is a Liberty that has never been allowed them in Newfoundland, because of the Danger of prejudicing the Cod-Fishery carried on by our adventurers' Ships, and by Boat-Keepers from Britain, lawfully qualified with Fishing-Certificates according to the aforementioned Act, who are fitted out at a very great Risque and Expence in complying with said Act, therefore they must not be liable to have their Voyages overthrown, or rendered precarious by any Means, or by any other Vessels whatever. And
"Whereas great Numbers of the Whaling Crews arriving from the Plantations on the Coast of Labradore early in the Spring considering it as a lawless Country are guilty of all Sorts of Outrages before the Arrival of the King's Ships, plundering whoever they find on the Coast too weak to resist them, obstructing our Ship Adventurers from Britain by sundry Ways, banking amongst their Boats along the Coast, which ruins the Coast-Fishery, and is contrary to the most ancient and most strictly observed Rule of the Fishery, and must not be suffered on any Account; also by destroying their Fishing-Works on Shore, stealing their Boats, Tackle and Utensils, firing the Woods all along the Coast, and hunting for and plundering, taking away or murdering the poor Indian Natives of the Country; by these Violences, Barbarities, and other notorious Crimes and Enormities, that Coast is in the utmost Confusion, and with Respect to the Indians is kept in a State of War.
"For preventing these Practices in future Notice is hereby given, That the King's Officers stationed in those Parts, are authorized and strictly directed, to apprehend all such Offenders within this Government, and to bring them to me to be tried for the same at the General Assizes at this Place: And for the better Government of that Country, for regulating the Fisheries, and for protecting His Majesty's Subjects from Insults from the Indians, I have His Majesty's Commands to erect Block Houses, and establish Guards along that Coast.
"This Notification is to be put in the Harbours in Labradore, within my Government, and through the Favour of His Excellency Governour Bernard, Copies thereof will be put up in the Ports within the Province of Massachusetts, where the Whalers mostly belong, for their Information before the next Fishing Season.
"Given under my Hand at St. John's in Newfoundland, this First Day of August, 1766.
"By Order of His Excellency,
There can be scarcely a doubt but that the indiscretions of the whalemen were much magnified (if indeed they really existed) in this pronunciamento of Governor Palliser, for the sake of bolstering up the former one. The whalemen of those days were far from being the set of graceless scamps which he represents them to be. Probably there was here and there a renegade. It would be quite impossible to find in so large a number of men that all were strict observers of the laws. Self-preservation, if no more humane motive existed, militated against the acts of which he complained. The whalemen were accustomed to visit the coast for supplies, in many cases several times a year; usually on their arrival in those parts they stood in for some portion of the coast and "wooded;" and it is hardly credible that they should wantonly destroy the stores they so much needed, or make enemies on a coast where they might at any time be compelled to land. The colonial governors quite often made the resources under their control a source of revenue for themselves, and the fact of the modification of Palliser's first proclamation only under pressure of the King and Parliament would seem to indicate personal interest in keeping whalemen from the colonies away from the territory under his control.
It is quite evident that even with this modification the colonial fishermen did not feel that confidence in the St. Lawrence and Belle Isle fishery that they felt when it was first opened to them; for a report from Charleston, S. C., dated June 19, 1767, states that on "the 22d ult. put in here, a sloop belonging to Rhode Island, from a Whaling Voyage in the Southern latitudes, having proved successful about 10 days before. The master informs us, that near 50 New England vessels have been on the whale fishery in the same latitudes, this season, by way of experiment."133 Over the open sea fortune-seeking governors could exercise no control, and there our seamen probably felt they could pursue their game without let or hinderance. Whales at that time abounded along the edge of the Gulf Stream, and there they continued to be found for some years, shifting their ground gradually as their fierce captors encroached more and more upon them to the vicinity of the Western and Leeward Islands, the Cape de Verdes, the Brazil Banks, and beyond. Some few whalemen, in spite of the restrictions, still visited the newly-opened fishing-ground.
The general results of the various voyages were on the whole good, and other places began to feel the stimulus of a desire to compete. Providence took part, and early in 1768 several vessels were fitted out from that port for this pursuit. New York, too, entered the lists, and Mr. Robert Murray and the Messrs. Franklin fitted a sloop for the same purpose, and she sailed on the 19th of April of that year.134 The town of Newport manifested great activity.
It was currently reported in the colonies, during the early part of 1767, that the irksome restrictions upon whaling were to be entirely removed; petitions to that effect had been presented to the home government, and a favorable result was hoped for, and early in 1768 the straits of Davis and Belle Isle were again vexed by the keels of our fishermen, as many as fifty or sixty anchoring in Canso harbor in April of that year, a few of them bound for the former locality, but the majority of them cruising in the vicinity of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Newfoundland.135 Two whaling-sloops from Nantucket, one commanded by Coleman, and the other by Coffin, were lost this season in the straits of Belle Isle, and the crews were saved by Captain Hamilton, of the Merlin sloop of war, who also aided them in saving the sails, rigging, and stores from the wrecks. The fishery in those parts was quite unsuccessful, many vessels, up to the last of August, having taken little or no oil.136
In 1768 there sailed from Nantucket eighty sail of vessels of an average burden of 75 tons, and probably fully as many more from other ports Cape Cod, Dartmouth, Boston, Providence, Newport, Warren, Falmouth, (Cape Cod,) and perhaps other ports being represented, and the voyages being undertaken to Davis Straits, Straits of Belle Isle, Grand Banks, Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Western Islands. Early in the season the Western Island fleet appears to have done little, but by the middle of September they had obtained an average of about 165 barrels. The northern fleet probably did nearly as well, as numerous instances occur of vessels spoken late in the summer and in the early fall with from 100 to 150 and even as high as 200 barrels. Assuming, then, that 140 vessels returned137 with an average produce of 150 barrels (which was the actual average import at Nantucket)138 and we have as the result of the season's fishing 21,000 barrels, worth, at £18 per ton, the ruling price, £47,200, or about $236,000.
"Between the years 1770 and 1775," says Macy,139 "the whaling business increased to an extent hitherto unparalleled. In 1770 there were a little more than one hundred vessels engaged; and in 1775 the number exceeded one hundred and fifty, some of them large brigs. The employment of so great and such an increasing capital may lead our readers to suppose that a corresponding profit was realized, but a careful examination of the circumstances under which the business was carried on will show the fallacy of such a conclusion. Many branches of labor were conducted by those who were immediately interested in the voyages.140 The young men, with few exceptions, were brought up to some trade necessary to the business. The rope-maker, the cooper, the blacksmith, the carpenter in fine, the workmen were either the ship-owners or of their household; so were often the officers and men who navigated the vessels and killed the whales. While a ship was at sea, the owners at home were busily employed in the manufactory of casks, iron-work, cordage, blocks, and other articles for the succeeding voyage. Thus the profits of the labor were enjoyed by those interested in the fishery, and voyages were rendered advantageous even when the oil obtained was barely sufficient to pay the outfits, estimating the labor as a part thereof. This mode of conducting the business was universal, and has continued to a very considerable extent to the present day.141 Experience taught the people bow to take advantage of the different markets for their oil. Their spermaceti oil was mostly sent to England in its unseparated state, the head matter being generally mixed with the body oil,142 for, in the early part of whaling it would bring no more when separated than when mixed. The whale-oil, which is the kind procured from the species called "right-whales," was shipped to Boston or elsewhere in the colonies, and there sold for country consumption, or sent to the West Indies."143
The seas continued to be infested with French and Spanish privateers and pirates,144 and whalemen, especially those frequenting the ocean in the vicinity of the Western Islands, were, from the very nature of their employment, constantly liable to depredations from these corsairs, whether legalized or lawless. In March, 1771, the sloop Neptune, Captain Nixon, arrived in Newport from the mole, bringing with him portions of the crews of three Dartmouth whalemen, who had been taken on the south side of Hispaniola by a Spanish guarda coasta. These vessels were commanded by Captain Silas Butler, William Roberts, and Richard Welding. Another whaling vessel belonging to Martha's Vineyard, commanded by Ephraim Pease, was also taken at about the same time, but released in order to put on board of her the remaining prisoners. At this time Pease had taken 200 barrels of oil, and the Dartmouth vessels, which were carried into St. Domingo, 100 barrels. These captures were made on the 11th of February.145
But it did not always happen that whalemen fell so easy a prey to predatory vessels. A little strategy sometimes availed them when a forcible resistance would have been out of the question, and it may be easily believed that men to whom danger and hairbreadth escapes were part of their every-day life would scarcely submit supinely when there was any chance in their favor. A notable instance of this kind occurred in April, 1771. Two Nantucket whaling-sloops, commanded respectively by Isaiah Chadwick and Obed Bunker, were lying at anchor in the harbor of Abaco, when a ship appeared off the mouth of the harbor with her signals set for assistance. With that readiness to aid distressed shipmates which has ever been a distinguishing trait of American whalemen, one of the captains with a boat's crew made up of men from each sloop hastened to render such help as was in their power. The vessel's side reached, the captain immediately boarded her to find what was desired, and much to his surprise had a pistol presented to his head by the officer in command with a peremptory demand that he should pilot the ship into the harbor. He assured the commander that he was a stranger there, but that there was a man in his boat who was acquainted with the port. The man was called and persuaded in the same manner in which the captain had been. The argument used to demonstrate the prudence of his compliance with the request being so entirely unanswerable the man performed the service, anchoring the ship where a point of land lay between her and the sloops. This being done the boat was dismissed and the men returned to their vessels. The Nantucket captains now held a consultation as to what course should be pursued. Those who had been on board the ship noticed that the men seemed to be all armed. They also observed, walking alone in the cabin, a man. The conclusion arrived at was that the ship was in the hands of pirates and that the man in the cabin was the former captain, and measures were immediately inaugurated to secure the vessel and crew. To this end an invitation was extended to the usurping captain, his officers and passengers to dine on board one of the sloops. The courtesy was accepted, and the pirate captain and his boatswain, with the displaced captain as representative of the passengers, repaired on board the sloop. After a short time he became uneasy and proposed to return to his own vessel, but he was seized by the whalemen and bound fast and his intentions frustrated. The actual captain now explained the situation, which was, that the ship sailed from Bristol (R. I.?) to the coast of Africa, from thence carried a cargo of slaves to the West Indies, and was on her return home with a cargo of sugar when the mutiny occurred, it being the intention of the mutineers to become pirates, a business at that time quite thrifty and promising. Our fishermen now told the boatswain that if he would go on board the ship and bring the former mate, who was in irons, and aid in recapturing the vessel, they would endeavor to have him cleared from the penalties of the law, and they prudently intimated to him that there was a man-of-war within two hours' sail from which they could obtain force enough to overpower his associates. As a further act of prudence they told him they would set a certain signal when they had secured help from the ship of war.
The boatswain not returning according to the agreement made, one sloop weighed anchor and stood toward the pirate-ship as though to pass on one side of her. As she approached the mutineers shifted their guns over to the side which it seemed apparent she would pass and trained them so as to sink her as she sailed by. But those who navigated the sloop were fully alive to these purposes, and as she neared the ship her course was suddenly changed and she swept by on the other side and was out of range of the guns before the buccaneers could recover from their surprise and reshift and retrain their cannon. On the sloop stood upon her course till they were out of sight of the ship, then tacking, the signal agreed with the boatswain was set and she was steered boldly for the corsair. As she hove in sight, the pirates, recognizing the sign, and believing an armed force from the man-of-war was on board the whaling-vessel, fled precipitately to the shore, where they were speedily apprehended on their character being known. The whalemen immediately boarded their prize, released the mate, and carried the ship to New Providence, where a bounty of $3,500 was allowed them for the capture and where the chief of the mutineers was hanged.146
About this time Dr. Benjamin Franklin, being in London, was questioned by the merchants there respecting the difference in time between the voyages of the merchantmen to Rhode Island and the English packets to New York. The variation, which was something like fourteen days, was a source of much annoyance to the English merchants, and believing the place of destination might have something to do with it, they seriously contemplated withdrawing the packets from New York and dispatching them to Rhode Island. In this dilemma they consulted Dr. Franklin. A Nantucket captain named Folger,147 who was a relative of the doctor's, being then in London, Franklin sought his opinion. Captain Folger told him that the merchantmen were commanded by men from Rhode Island who were acquainted with the Gulf Stream and the effect of its currents, and in the passage to America made use of this knowledge. Of this the English captains were ignorant, not from lack of repeated warnings, for they had been often told that they were stemming a current which was running at the rate of three miles an hour, and that if the wind was light the stream would set them back faster than the breeze would send them ahead, but they were too wise to be advised by simple American fishermen, and so persevered in their own course at a loss of from two to three weeks on every trip. By Franklin's request Captain Folger made a sketch of the stream, with directions how to use or avoid its currents, and this sketch made over a century ago is substantially the same as is found on charts of the present day. "the Nantucket whalemen," says Franklin,148 "being extremely well acquainted with the Gulph Stream, its course, strength, and extent, by their constant practice of whaling on the edges of it, from their island quite down to the Bahamas, this draft of that stream was obtained of one of them, Captain Folger, and caused to be engraved on the old chart in London for the benefit of navigators by B. Franklin."
Notwithstanding this information so kindly volunteered to them, and notwithstanding the fact that the Falmouth captains were furnished with the new charts, they still persisted in sailing their old course. There is a point where perseverance degenerates into something more ignoble; it would seem as though at this date these self-sufficient captains had about attained that point.
In 1772 two whaling sloops from Nantucket, with 150 barrels of oil each, were captured by a Spanish brig and sloop of Matanzas.149 In December of the same year, the brig Leviathan, Lathrop, sailed from Rhode Island for the Brazil Banks on a whaling voyage. On the 25th of January they lowered for whales, and in the chase the mate's boat (Brotherton Daggett) lost sight of the brig, but the crew were picked up at sea and brought home by another vessel.
In 1773 quite a fleet of American whalers were on the coast of Africa,150 no less than 14 being reported as coming from that ground, and probably there were as many more of whom no report was made. One brig from Boston, while off the coast of Sierra Leone, sent a boat ashore with six men to procure water. The boat was seized and the crew all massacred by the natives. In the spring of the following year a sloop owned by Gideon Almy of Tiverton, and another belonging to Boston, were seized, while watering at Hispaniola, by a French frigate, carried into Port-au-Prince and there condemned.151
In 1774 a report came by the way of Fayal that a small American whaling brig was lying in the harbor of Rio Janeiro with only her captain and three men on board. It appears that, putting in there for refreshments,152 in the summer of 1773, a portion of her crew were, "by fair or foul means," induced to ship on a Portuguese snow153 for a three months' whaling voyage. The snow was provided with harpoons and other whaling craft, made after the English models, and was cruising for sperm whales, a business altogether new to the Portuguese, who had been, hitherto, ignorant of any but the right whale, and had never ventured even in the pursuit of them out of sight of land. The brig still lay there in October, 1773, waiting the return of her men.154
In 1774 the whale-fishery in the colonies must have been in the full tide of success. There were probably fitted out annually at this time no less than 360 vessels of various kinds, with an aggregate burden of nearly 33,000 tons, and employing directly about 4,700 men, and indirectly an immensely greater number. Despite the depredations of French and Spanish privateers the fishery continued to flourish. The annual production from 1771 to 1775 was probably at least 45,000 barrels of spermaceti oil, and 8,500 barrels of right whale oil, and of bone nearly or quite 75,000 pounds.155 In the various seaport towns from which this pursuit was carried on, in Nantucket, Wellfleet, Dartmouth, Lynn, Martha's Vineyard, Barnstable, Boston, Falmouth, and Swanzey, in Massachusetts, in Newport, Providence, Warren, and Tiverton, in Rhode Island, in New London, Connecticut, Sag Harbor on Long Island, the merry din of the "yo heave ho" of the sailors was heard; the ring of the blacksmith's hammer and anvil made cheery music; the coopers, with their hammers and drivers, kept time to the tramp of their feet as round and round the casks they marched, tightening more and more the bands that bound together the vessels which should hold the precious oil; and the creaking of the blocks as the vessels unloaded their freight, or the riggers fitted them anew for fresh conquests, and the rattle of the hurrying teams as they carried off the product of the last voyage or brought the necessaries for the future one, lent their portion of animation to the scene. Everywhere was hurry and bustle; everywhere all were employed; none that thirsted for employment went away unsatisfied. If a vessel made a bad voyage, the owners, by no means dispirited, again fitted her out, trusting in the next one to retrieve the loss; if she made a profitable one, the proceeds were treasured up to offset a possible failure in some future cruise. On all sides were thrift and happiness.
But a change was near. "A cloud, at first no bigger than a man's hand," was beginning to overshadow the whole heaven of their commercial prosperity. The colonies, driven to desperation by the heartless cruelty of the mother country, prepared to stay further aggression, and resent at the mouth of the cannon and the point of the bayonet the insults and injuries that for a decade of years had been heaped upon them; and the English ministry, against the earnest entreaty of British merchants on both sides of the Atlantic, prepared also to enforce its desires by a resort to arms.156
The first industry to feel the shock of the approaching storm was the fisheries. Massachusetts, the center of this pursuit, was to the English ministers the very focus of the insurrectionary talk and action, and "the first step," says Bancroft, "toward inspiring terror was, to declare Massachusetts in a state of rebellion, and to pledge the Parliament and the whole force of Great Britain to its reduction; the next, by prohibiting the American fisheries, to starve New England; the next, to excite a servile insurrection.157
Accordingly on the 10th of February, 1775, the ministry introduced into Parliament a bill restricting the trade and commerce of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to Great Britain, Ireland, and the British West Indies, and prohibiting the colonies from carrying on any fishery on the Banks of Newfoundland or any other part of the North American coast.158 "The best shipbuilders in the world were at Boston, and their yards had been closed; the New England fishermen were now to be restrained from a toil in which they excelled the world. Thus the joint right to the fisheries was made a part of the great American struggle."159 To this bill there was a small but active and determined opposition, both in the House of Lords and House of Commons. It was urged on the part of the ministry that the fisheries were the property of England, and it was with the English government to do as they pleased with them. To this opinion the minority strenuously demurred. "God and nature," said Johnston, "have given that fishery to New England and not to Old."160 It was also argued by the friends of America that if the American fishery was destroyed the occupation must inevitably fall into the hands of the natural rivals of Great Britain. Despite the efforts of the little band the bill was received by a vote of 261 to 85, and passed through its various stages. As each phase was reached the act was fought determinedly but uselessly and hopelessly. The merchants and traders of London petitioned against it, and the American merchants secured the services of David Barclay to conduct the examination of those who were called to testify by the friends and opponents of the bill.161 "It was said, that the cruelty of the bill exceeded the examples of hostile rigour with avowed enemies; that in all the violence of our most dangerous wars it was an established rule in the marine service, to spare the coast-fishing craft of our declared enemies; always considering that we waged war with nations, and not with private individuals."162
It was claimed that by the provisions of the bill much hardship must fall upon many people who were already at sea, and who from the very nature of their occupations must be innocent. "The case of the inhabitants of Nantucket was particularly hard. This extraordinary people, amounting to between five and six thousand in number, nine-tenths of whom are Quakers, inhabit a barren island, fifteen miles long by three broad, the products of which were scarcely capable of maintaining twenty families. From the only harbour which this sterile island contains, without natural products of any sort, the inhabitants, by an astonishing industry, keep an 140 vessels in constant employment. Of these, eight were employed in the importation of provisions for the island, and the rest in the whale-fishery." A petition was also presented from the English Quakers in behalf of their brethren at Nantucket, in which they stated the innocence of the inhabitants of that island, "their industry, the utility of their labours both to themselves and the community, the great hazards that attended their occupation, and the uncertainty of their gains; and shewed that if the bill passed into a law, they must in a little time be exposed to all the dreadful miseries of famine. The singular state and circumstances of these people, occasioned some attention to be paid to them. A gentleman on the side of the administration said, that on a principle of humanity he would move, that a clause should be added to the bill, to prevent the operation from extending to any whale-ships, which sailed before the 1st of March, and were at that time the property of the people of Nantucket."163
"The bill," says a reviewer of the time, "was attacked on every ground of policy and government; and with the greatest strength of language and height of colouring. The minority made amends for the smallness of their numbers by their zeal and activity. * * * Evil principles," they contended, "were prolific; the Boston Port Bill begot this New England Bill; this will beget a Virginia Bill; and that again will become the progenitor of others, until, one by one, parliament has ruined all its colonies, and rooted up all its commerce; until the statute-book becomes nothing but a black and bloody roll of proscriptions; a frightful code of rigour and tyranny; a monstrous digest of acts of penalty and incapacity and general attainder; and that wherever it is opened it will present a title for destroying some trade or ruining some province."164
It was during the debate upon this bill that Burke made that eloquent defense of the colonies which has rung in the ears of every boy born or bred in a seaport town since the day it was uttered. "For some time past, Mr. Speaker," said Burke, "has the Old World been fed from the New. The scarcity which you have felt would have been a desolating famine, if this child of your old age, if America, with a true filial piety, with a Roman charity, had not put the full breast of its youthful exuberance to the mouth of its exhausted parent. Turning from the agricultural resources of the Colonies, consider the wealth which they have drawn from the sea by their fisheries. The spirit in which that enterprising employment has been exercised ought to raise your esteem and admiration. Pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the People of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay and Davis' Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the Arctic Circle, we bear that they have pierced into the opposite region of Polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the South. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry.165 Nor is the equinoctial beat more discouraging to them than the accumulated winter of both the Poles. We know that whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game, along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not a witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most peril ous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent People; a People who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone, of manhood. When I contemplate these things, when I know that the Colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of a watchful and suspicious Government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection, when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt, and die away within me. My rigor relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty."
But eloquence, logic, arguments, facts availed nothing. The bill became a law. In the upper house of Parliament, where a minority fought the bill as determinedly as the minor part of the Commons, fifteen lords entered a protest against it. The island of Nantucket was, for the reasons enumerated, relieved somewhat from its extremest features, a fact which did not escape the surveillance of the provincial authorities, who in their turn restricted the exportation of provisions from any portion of the colonies, save the Massachusetts Bay, to that island, and the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts further prohibited any exportation from that colony, save under certain regulations.166 But, like the mother country, the colonies yielded to the behests of humanity and relaxed their stringency in regard to this island.
At an early day after the formal opening of the issue of battle between England and the plantations, the general court of Massachusetts passed a resolve, directing "that from and after the fifteenth Day of August instant, no Ship or Vessell should sail out of any port in this Colony, on any whaling Voyage whatever, without leave first had and obtained from the Great and General Court of this Colony, or from some Committee or committees or persons they shall appoint to grant such leave;" and on the 24th of August, the day for adjournment of the court being near at hand, it was further resolved, in view of possible damage liable to accrue to parties for want of these permits, " that the Major part of the Council for this Colony be, and they accordingly are, hereby fully impowered to grant leave for any Vessell or Vessells to sail out of any port in this Colony, on any whaling Voyage whatever, as to them shall seem fit & reasonable for the Benefit of Individuals, and the Good of the Public, provided there be good & sufficient security given that the Oil & Bone, &c., obtained on said Voyage shall be brought into some Port in this Colony, except the port of Boston, & such Permits do not interfere with any Resolve or Recommendations of the Continental Congress: The power herein given to continue only in the recess of the general court."167
The bells that called the hardy yeomanry of New England to the defense of their imperiled liberties on the ever-memorable morning of the 19th of April rung the death knell of the whale-fishery, save that carried on from Nantucket; the rattle of musketry was the funeral volley over its grave.168 Save from this solitary island, it was doomed to annihilation. A few vessels were fitted out early in the war from other ports, but the risk was so great and the necessity so small that the business was soon abandoned. With Nantucket it was simply a case of desperation; the business must be carried on, or the island must be depopulated; starvation or removal were the only alternatives of inaction. The receipt of the news of the battle at Lexington and Concord, glorious as it was to the colonies at large, and glorious as it may have been to the islanders whose religious principles were not rigidly opposed to war in any form and under any circumstances, was to the majority of the inhabitants the announcement of ruined fortunes, annihilated commerce, misery, privation, and sutlering. Without the immediate circle of colonial assistance, knowing that they were cut off from aid in case they were attacked, open to and defenseless at all sides from the predatory raids of avowed enemies and treacherous, pretended friends, the only course left open to them to adopt was to be as void of offense as possible and strive to live through the desperate struggle just about to commence. Some of the people removed to New York and eventually established the whale-fishery there. Some removed to North Carolina and there formed a community remarkable for thrift and hospitality; but the vast majority preferred to link their fortunes with those of their island home, and with her sink or swim. Vessels from abroad turned their prows toward home and speeded on their way, hoping to attain their port before English armed vessels could intercept them; those already arrived were most of them stripped of their sails and rigging and moored to the crowded wharves or run high and dry ashore.
The petitions of parties for permission to fit out their vessels for whaling were almost invariably complied with by the general court, bonds being given in about £2,000 that the cargo should be landed at some port in the colony, excepting Boston or Nantucket.169
In 1776 the Continental Congress endeavored to induce France to engage in war against England, but in the proposed negotiations the fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland and the various gulfs and bays of North America were to be, understood as not open to a question of division. Spain, too, was applied to. "The Colonies," says Bancroft, "were willing to assure to Spain freedom from molestation in its territories; they renounced in favor of France all eventual conquests in the West Indies; but they claimed the sole right of acquiring British Continental America and all adjacent islands, including the Bermudas, Cape Breton, and Newfoundland. It was America and not France which first applied the maxim of monopoly to the fisheries. The King of France might retain his exclusive rights on the banks of New Foundland, as recognized by England in the treaty of 1763, but his subjects were not to fish in the havens. bays, creeks, roads, coasts, or places,' which the United States were to win."170
In the mean time how was England affected by her American policy? The colonial fishery being abolished, it became essential that something should be done to replace it, "and particularly to guard against the ruinous consequences of the foreign markets, either changing the course of consumption or falling into the bands of strangers, and those perhaps inimical to this country. The consumption of fish-oil as a substitute for tallow was now become so extensive as to render that also an object of great national concern; the city of London alone expending about £300,000 annually in that commodity."171 The evidence taken on behalf of the ministry in support of their restraining bill, tending to show that there already existed sufficient capital in ships, men, and money for the immediate and safe transfer of the whale fishery to England, while well enough for partisan purposes, was not considered so reliable by the parties bringing it forward, and the government was not at all desirous or willing to risk a matter of such extreme importance upon the testimony there given.
Measures were accordingly taken to give encouragement to this pursuit to the fishermen and capitalists of Great Britain and Ireland.172 The committee having the subject in charge were of the opinion that a bounty should extend to the fisheries to the southward of Greenland and Davis Straits, and at the same time that the duties on oil, blubber, and bone, imported from Newfoundland, should be taken off. It was found that the restraining bill worked serious damage to the people of Newfoundland, and also to the fisheries from the British islands to that coast, as, in order to prevent absolute famine there, it was necessary that several ships should return light from that vicinity in order to carry cargoes of provisions from Ireland to the sufferers there.173
The English fishery, even under the encouragement given, did not, however, answer the expectations or hopes of its friends. It was not so easily transferred as had been imagined. A few more vessels sailed from Great Britain, employing, of course, a few more men, but the extra supply was a mere trifle in comparison to the deficiency that the restraining bill had caused.
The colonies, in turn, passed a bill cutting off supplies to the English fleet from the plantations,174 a course entirely unforeseen by the sage adherents of the British bill. As a natural consequence, the fishery, which promised so well on paper, and upon which the majority in Parliament had founded so many hopes, failed to yield them the solace for the evil done to America that they so fondly anticipated. Many ships, instead of bearing to England supplies, only returned there for provisions to relieve the distress they found on the coast, both on the sea and the land. Indeed, it was estimated that the colonial restraining act caused a loss to England in the fishery in these parts alone of fully half a million of pounds sterling.175 To add to the calamities caused by man, the very elements seemed combined against them, for a terrible storm arose, and the center of its fury was the shores and banks of Newfoundland. "This awful wreck of nature," says a chronicler of the time, "was as singular in its circumstances as fatal in its effects. The sea is said to have risen 30 feet almost instantaneously. Above seven hundred boats, with their people, perished, and several ships, with their crews. Nor was the mischief much less on the land, the waves overpassing all mounds, and sweeping everything before them. The shores presented a shocking spectacle for some time after, and the fishing-nets were hauled up loaded with human bodies."176 These misfortunes the opposers of the bill attributed to the vengeance of an indignant Provideuce.
But Parliament went further than this, and added to the atrocity of this measure another none the less barbarous. It was decreed that all those prisoners who should be taken on board of American vessels should be compelled, without distinction of rank, to serve as common sailors on British ships of war. This proposed measure was received with great indignation by those gentlemen in Parliament whom partisan asperity had not blinded to every feeling of justice to or compassion for the colonies. The clause in the bill which contained this provision was " marked by every possible stigma," and was described by the Lords, in their protest, as "a refinement in tyranny" which, "in a sentence worse than death, obliges the unhappy men who shall be made captives in this predatory war to bear arms against their families, kindred, friends, and country; and after being plundered themselves, to become accomplices in plundering their brethren."177 And, by the articles of war, these very men were liable to be shot for desertion.
By the action of this measure large numbers of Nantucket whaling captains with their crews and a few from other ports were captured by the English, and given their choice either to enter the service of the King in a man-of-war or sail from an English port in the same pursuit to which they had become accustomed.178 In September (13th,) 1779, John Adams, writing from Braintree179 to the council of Massachusetts, says:
"May it please your Honours:180 While I resided at Paris I had an opportunity of procuring from London exact Information concerning the British Whale Fishery on the Coast of Brazil, which I beg Leave to communicate to your Honours, that if any advantage can be made of it the opportunity may not be lost.
"The English, the last year and the year before, carried on, this Fishery to very great advantage, off of the River Plate, in South America in the Latitude Thirty five south and from thence to Forty, just on the edge of soundings, off and on, about the Longitude sixty five, from London. They had seventeen vessells in this Fishery, which all sailed from London, in the Months of September and October. All the officers and Men are Americans.
"The Names of the Captains are, Aaron Sheffield of Newport, , Goldsmith181 and Richard Holmes from Long Island, John Chadwick, Francis May,182 Reuben May,183 John Meader, Jonathan Meader, Elisha Clark, Benjamin Clark, William Ray, Paul Pease, Bunker Fitch, Reuben Fitch, Zebbeedee Coffin184 and another Coffin, Delano,185 Andrew Swain, William Ray, all of Nantucket, John Lock, Cape Cod;186 four or five of these vessels went to Greenland. The fleet sails to Greenland, yearly, the last of February or the Beginning of March. There was published, the year before last, in the English Newspapers, and the same Imposture was repeated last year, and no doubt will be renewed this, a Letter from the Lords of Admiralty to Mr. Dennis De Beralt, in Colman street, informing, him that a Convoy should be appointed to the Brazil Fleet. But this, I had certain Information, was a Forgery calcutelad[sic] mainly to deceive American Privateers, and that no Convoy was appointed, or did go with that Fleet, either last year, or the year before.
"For the Destruction or Captivity of a Fishery so entirely defenceless, for riot one of the Vessells has any arms, a single Frigate or Privateer of Twenty-four, or even of Twenty guns, would be sufficient. The Beginning of December, would be the best Time to proceed from hence, because the Frigate would then find the Whaling Vessells nearly loaded. The Cargoes of these Vessells, consisting of Bone and Oyl, will be very valuable, and at least four hundred and fifty of the best kind of seamen would be taken out of the Hands of the English, and might be gained into the American service to act against the Enemy. Most of the officers and Men wish well to this Country, and would gladly be in its service if they could be delivered, from that they are engaged in. Whenever an English Man of war, or Privateer, has taken an American Vessell, they have given to the Whalemen among the Crew, by order of Government, their Choice, either to go on Board a Man of war, and fight against their Country or go into the Whale Fishery. Such Numbers have chosen the latter as have made up the Crews of these seventeen Vessells.187
"I thought it my Duty to communicate this Intelligence to your Honours, that if so profitable a Branch of Commerce, and so valuable a Nursery of Seamen, can be taken from the English it may be done. This State has a peculiar Right and Interest to undertake the Enterprise, as almost the whole fleet belongs to it. I have the Honour to be, with the highest Consideration, your Honours most obedient & most humble servant
This letter was referred to a committee who reported that a copy of it should be sent to the President of the Continental Congress, which report was adopted, and thus Massachusetts let slip through her fingers the identical golden opportunity which the General Government had neglected the year before. The suggestions of Mr. Adams, who of all our revolutionary statesmen seems most to have understood and appreciated the importance of this industry, were practically disregarded.188 It is difficult to calculate how much the American whale-fishery was affected by this failure to act on this suggestion of Mr. Adams. Many of these captains and men, and others captured at other times during the war, had at its close sailed so long from British ports that the extraordinary inducements held out by the English, and the depression in their business in the United States, immediately succeeding the close of the war, operated to transfer to that country their skill and, measurably, their capital.
In the years 1778-'79 the English navy made several forays upon the sea-coast towns of New England, destroying much property at Warren, R. I., Dartmouth, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket in Massachusetts.189 Indeed, these predatory raids were frequent throughout the war, and liable to occur at any time, consequently the unfortunate inhabitants were kept in a continual ferment. During the sat-no time the government of France was continually intriguing for the exclusive possession of the North American fisheries. On the 6th of February, 1778, a treaty of amity and commerce was arranged between France and the United States. Upon this point each side was to retain the exclusive right to its own. The Americans conceded to the French the rights reserved by the treaties of Utrecht190 and Paris,191 even to the French interpretation of them, which were the right to fish upon the Banks, and the exclusive use of one-half the shores of Newfoundland upon which to dry their fish.192 In regard to what disposition should be made of that island in case it should be Captured, nothing was said; the sentiment of New England, however, upon that point was unmistakable. Later in the same year Samuel Adams, in a letter from Philadelphia, wrote: "I hope we shall secure to the United States, Canada, Nova Scotia, Florida too, and the fishery, by our arms or by treaty?" He writes further, and every year of the past century has borne witness to the soundness of his views: "We shall never be on a solid footing, till Great Britain cedes to us, or we wrest from her, what nature designs we should have.193
France also sought the aid of Spain, and that power was given to understand that in the final treaty of peace between the United States and England, they, too, would necessarily have some voice. Vergennes, in October (1778) stated, as the only stipulations which France would require, that in the final negotiations the treaty of Utrecht must be either wholly continued or entirely annulled; that she must be allowed to restore the harbor of Dunkirk; and that she must be allowed "the coast of Newfoundland, from Cape Bonavista to Cape St. John, with the exclusive fishery from Cape Bonavista to Point Riche?"194 By a treaty made with Spain, April 12, 1779, France bound herself to attempt the invasion of Great Britain or Ireland, and to share only with Spain the North American fisheries, in case she succeeded in driving the English from Newfoundland.
These discussions (as to the terms to be embraced in the final treaty of peace) were necessary pending the question of an alliance with France and Spain against England. When the subject of frontiers was brought up, France, while yielding all claim to the provinces of Canada and Nova Scotia, which for years had been hers, joined heartily with Spain in opposing the manifest desire of the Americans to secure them. Two States persisted in the right and policy of acquiring them, but Congress, as a body, deferred to the French view of the subject. "With regard to the fisheries, of which the interruption formed one of the elements of the war, public law had not yet been settled. By the treaty of Utrecht, France agreed not to fish within thirty leagues of the coast of Nova Scotia; and by that of Paris, not to fish within fifteen leagues of Cape Breton. Moreover, New England at the beginning of the war had, by act of Parliament, been debarred from fishing on the banks of Newfoundland * * * *. "The fishery on the high seas," so Vergennes expounded the law of nations, "is as free as the sea itself, and it is superfluous to discuss the right of the Americans to it. But the coast-fisheries belong of right to the proprietary of the coast. Therefore the fisheries on the coasts of Newfoundland, of Nova Scotia, of Canada, belong exclusively to the English; and the Americans have no pretension whatever to share in them.'195 In vain the United States urged that the colonies, almost exclusively, had improved the coast-fisheries, and considered that immemorial and sole improvement was practical acquisition. In vain they insisted that New England men, and New England money, and New England brains had effected the first conquest of Cape Breton, and were powerful aids to the subsequent conquest of Nova Scotia and Canada, and hence they had acquired at least a perpetual joint propriety. To their arguments Vergennes replied that the conquests were made not for the colonies but for the crown, and when New England dissolved its allegiance to that crown she renounced her right to the coast-fisheries. In the end the United States were obliged to succumb; they had asked aid from foreign powers, and they must yield so far as was practicable to the demands those powers made. These concessions were a portion of the price of independence.
A committee196 was appointed by Congress to definitely arrange upon what terms the future treaty of peace with England should be finally consummated, and in February, 1779, they reported that Spain manifested a disposition to form an alliance with the United States, hence independence was an eventual certainty. On the question of fishing they reported that the right should belong properly to the United States, France, and Great Britain in common. This portion of the report was long under discussion in Congress, and it was finally voted that the common right of the United States to fish "on the coasts, bays, and banks of Newfoundland and Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Straits of Labrador, and Belleisle should in no case be given up."197 Under a vote to reconsider this subject on the 24th of March, Richard Henry Lee proposed that the United States should have the same rights which they enjoyed when subject to Great Britain, which proposition was carried by the votes of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the four New England States, New York and the Southern States opposing. New York, under the leadership of Jay and Morris, peremptorily declined to insist on this right by treaty, and Morris moved that independence should be the sole condition of peace. This was declared out of order by the votes of the New England States, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, against the unanimous vote of New York, Maryland, and North Carolina; Delaware, Virginia, and South Carolina being equally divided.
But France had a vital interest in this matter, and the French minister interposed his influence, and on the 27th of May Congress returned to its original resolve, "that in no case, by any treaty of peace, should the common right of fishing be given up."
On the 19th of June the equanimity of the French minister was suddenly and rudely disturbed by Elbridge Gerry, who, being from Marblehead, was the steady and persistent champion of the claims of New England, and who, in the prolonged discussions, always came to the front in defense of those rights. Entirely unexpectedly, Gerry, avoiding "a breach of the rules of Congress by a change in form, moved resolutions, that the United States have a common right with the English to the fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland, and the other fishing-banks and seas of North America. The demand was for no more than Vergennes confessed to belong to them by the law of nations; and Gerry insisted that unless the right received the guarantee of France, on the consent of Great Britain, the American minister should not sign any treaty of peace without first consulting Congress."198 A most stormy and bitter debate ensued. The friends of France resisted strenuously. Four States declared if the resolution was adopted they should secede. The matter, however, was somewhat compromised and the common right of fishing on the Grand Banks affirmed; Congress asking for that right the guarantee of France by means of a supplementary article explanatory of former treaties.
The French minister became alarmed, and sought an interview with the President of Congress and two other members known to be equally favorably disposed to the policy he represented. The vigor and zeal with which New England had pressed the matter had disposed them to concede to the desires of this section. He assured them "that disunion from the side of New England was not to be feared, for its people carried their love of independence even to delirium," and continued: "There would seem to be a wish to break the connection of France with Spain; but I think I can say that, if the Americans should have the audacity to force the King of France to choose between the two alliances, his decision would not be in favor of the United States; he will not certainly expose himself to consume the remaining resources of his kingdom for many years, only to secure an increase of fortune to a few shipmasters of New England. I shall greatly regret on account of the Americans, should Spain enter into war without a convention with them." Five hours of discussion failed to induce the members to undertake to change the views of Congress, and a new interview was held on the 12th of July, between Gerard and Congress, in a committee of the whole. As a final result the question was left to be settled, when a treaty of peace was formally arranged with Great Britain.199
In the mean time how fared it with the whale-fishery? The people of Nantucket, with whom alone it was still encouraged, though in the face of the most terrible discouragements, were reduced to the severest straits. To live, they must eat; to eat, they must have provisions; to obtain provisions, they must give in exchange money or its equivalent; to obtain the exchangeable commodity, some business must be pursued. The whale-fishery was the only business available to them. Long practice had made them familiar with it, and a singleness of pursuit had kept them comparatively ignorant of any other occupation. But the great problem was how to carry it on, even in the limited way to which, by the destruction of their vessels, they were restricted. If they sailed under American protection, the English captured and destroyed their vessels and imprisoned their men; if they cleared with the sanction of English safeguards, the Americans performed for them the same kindly offices. Between the upper and the nether millstones of war they were quite ground to powder. In their extremity they learned that the English were inclined to be lenient toward them in the matter, and they had quite reliable assurance that the leading men of the American Government looked compassionately upon the distressed situation of the unfortunate islanders.
Influenced by these considerations, the inhabitants sent Timothy Folger, esq., to New York, to represent the condition they were in, and solicit permission to carry on whaling without danger of capture from British cruisers. They asked permits for twenty fishing-boats to fish around the island, for four vessels to be employed in the whale-fishery, for ten small vessels to supply the inhabitants with wood, and for one to go to New York for some few supplies not obtainable elsewhere.200 Their petition was not so successful as they had wished.
In 1781 Admiral Digby succeeded Admiral Arbuthnot in the command of the English fleet in these waters, and permission to whale was asked of him,201 and permits were issued for twenty-four vessels to pursue the business unmolested by English armed cruisers.202 "This privilege," says Macy, "seemed to give new life to the people. It produced a considerable movement in business, but the resources of the island had so diminished, that but a small number of vessels could take the benefit of these permits. Those who had vessels, and were possessed of the means, fitted them out on short voyages, and, had there been no hinderance, it is probable that they would have done well; for the whales, having been unmolested for several years, had become numerous, and were pretty easily caught. To carry on the whale-fishery under permission of the government of Great Britain was a proceeding somewhat novel, and could not pass unnoticed. Although it was not publicly known, yet it was generally believed that some kind of indulgence had been shown by the enemy to the people of Nantucket. This caused some clamor on the continent; but our Government well knew the situation of the place, and its large participation in the calamities of the war, and was, consequently, rather inclined to favor than to condemn he acceptance of favors from the English. Although the Governmentt[sic] could not grant an exclusive privilege to any particular part of the Union, yet such encouragement was given by the leading men of the nation, in their individual capacity, as to warrant the proceeding. Several vessels whaling under these permits were taken by American privateers and carried into port, but in every instance they were soon liberated. Whenever it was found that the permits were used for no other purpose than that for which they had been granted, and that the vessels using them had not been engaged in illicit trade, there was no hesitation in releasing them."
Nevertheless a great risk attended this mode of proceeding, and the islanders became satisfied that to make the business reasonably safe permits must be obtained from both contending powers and permission also to make use of each license against the other's vessels of war. Accordingly, a town meeting was convened on the 25th of September, 1782, and a memorial prepared and adopted which was sent to the general court of Massachusetts.203 This petition recited the unfortunate situation the people were in, exposed to the inroads of English and Americans, with neither side able or willing to protect them against the other, and powerless, because of the defenseiess character of the island and the religious convictions of the vast majority of the inhabitants, to suitably guard their own firesides. They urged that people in continental towns, where the broad country opened to them a place for retreat, could have but faint ideas of the suffering of those who were constantly liable to hostile invasion and whose insular position precluded all thoughts of escape, and they indignantly resented the calumnies which had been spread broadcast through the State in regard to alleged actions of theirs. Regarding the prosecution of their business, they said:
"We now beg leave to throw a few hints before you respecting the Whalefishery, as a matter of great importance to this Commonwealth. This place before the War, was the First in that branch of business, & employed more than One Hundred Sail of good Vessels therein, which furnished a support not only for Five Thousand Inhabitants here, but for Thousands elsewhere, no place so well adapted for the good of the Community at large as Nantucket, it being destitute of every material necessary in the Business, and the Inhabitants might be called Factors for the Continent rather than Principals; as the war encreased the Fishery ceased, until necessity obliged us to make trial the last Year, with about about seventeen sail of Vessels, Two of which were captured & carried to New York,204 & one was burnt the others made saving voyages. The present Year we employed about Twenty Four sail in the same business, which have mostly compleated their Voyages, but with little success; & a great loss will ensue; this we apprehend is greatly owing to the circumscribed situation of the Fishery; we are now fully sensible that it can no longer be pursued by us, unless we have free liberty both from Great Britain & America to fish without interruption; As we now find One of our Vessels is captured & carried to New York, but without any Oil on board, and Two others have lately been taken & carried into Boston & Salem, under pretense of having double papers on board, (Nevertheless we presume the captors will not say that any of our Whalemen have gone into New York during the season as such a charge would have no foundation in Truth). And if due attention is not paid to this valuable branch, which if it was viewed in all its parts, perhaps would appear the most advantageous, of any possess'd by this Government, it will be intirely lost, if the War continues: We view it with regret & mention it with concern, & from the gloomy prospect now before us, we apprehend many of the Inhabitants must quit the Island, not being able even to provide necessaries for the approaching Winter: some will retreat to the Continent & set down in the Western Governments; and the most active in the Fishery will most probably go to distant Countries, where they can have every encouragement, by Nations who are eagerly wishing to embrace so favourable an opportunity to accomplish their desires; which will be a great loss to the Continent in general, but more to this Government in particular.
"We beg leave to impress the consideration of this important subject, not as the judgment of an insignificant few, but of a Town which a few Years since stood the Third in Rank (if we mistake not) in bearing the Burthens of Government; It was then populous and abounded with plenty, it is yet populous but is covered with poverty. Your Memorialists have made choice of Samuel Starbuck, Josiah Barker, William Rotch, Stephen Hussey and Timothy Folger, as their Committee who can speak more fully to the several matters contain'd in this Memorial, or any other thing that may concern this County, to whom we desire to refer you.
"Signed in behalf of the Town by
This memorial was referred to a committee consisting of George Cabot, esq., on behalf of the Senate, and General Ward and Colonel McCobb on the part of the House, which committee on the 29th of October made the following report: "That altho' the Facts set forth in said Memorial are true and the Memorialists deserve Relief in the premises, yet as no adequate Relief can be given them but by the United States in Congress assembled, therefore it, is the opinion of the Committee that the said Memorial be referr'd to the consideration of Congress, and the Delegates of this Commonwealth be required to use their Endeavours to impress Congress with just Ideas of the high worth & Importance of the Whale fishery to the United States in general, & this State in particular."205 This report was accepted, and it was ordered that the delegates be furnished with a copy of the memorial, and be required to take the action indicated in the report.
In addition to the action of the general court, the town also sent William Rotch and Samuel Starbuck to Philadelphia to intercede personally in the matter. After conferring with General Lincoln, Samuel Osgood, Nathaniel Gorham, Thomas Fitzsimmons, and James Madison, they approached one of the Massachusetts delegation who was a resident of Boston, and who was greatly prejudiced against Nantucket. After an interview of about two hours with no apparent relaxation of the bitterness of feeling on his part, Mr. Rotch questioned him as to whether the whale-fishery was "worth preserving to this country?" He replied, "Yes." "Can it be preserved in the present state of things by anyplace except Nantucket?" "No." "Can we preserve it unless you and the British will both give us permits?" "No." "Then, pray," continued Mr. Rotch, "where is the difficulty?" Thus this interview ended. Messrs. Rotch and Starbuck then drew up a memorial and presented it to the consideration of the above-named gentlemen, desiring them to review it, at the same time telling them of the conversation between Mr. Rotch and the delegate from Boston. By advice of these friends they waited again upon the member from Massachusetts, and he accepted the charge of bringing the subject before Congress, where, after deliberation, it was determined to grant permits for thirty-five vessels to sail on whaling voyages, and these were accordingly granted and delivered. The very next day a vessel arrived from Europe bringing the rumor of the signing of a provisional treaty of peace.206
This was early in 1783.207 The passage from the provisional to the definitive treaty was long, circuitous, and at times dark. One of the chief sources of difference was the settlement of the question of the fisheries, England with an apparent feeling of magnanimity conceding favors, and America with a sense of justice claiming rights. Against what the United States considered her just dues the diplomacy of the English, their late enemies, and the French, their recent allies, was arrayed, and nothing but firmness, sagacity, and skill on the part of the American commissioners saved the day. The English guarded their assumptions with all possible jealousy; the French sought a loose place in the armor to insert the diplomatic sword, and gain by treaty what they had been unable to sustain with force. The Americans were ever on the alert to overcome the prejudices of a power from whom they had conquered a peace, and to propitiate the supersensitiveness of a power which had rendered them so valuable assistance. They could not, however, depart from certain propositions. The articles which must be inviolate were those guaranteeing to America full and unconditional independence, and the withdrawal from the thirteen States of all British troops; the Mississippi as a western, and the Canadian line as it was prior to the Quebec act of 1774, for a northern boundary; and a freedom in the fishery off Newfoundland and elsewhere as it had been enjoyed prior to the commencement of hostilities. In vain Great Britain sought to evade the latter clause; the United States tenaciously, as in a vice, held her to it, and she yielded.
E. FROM 1784 TO 1816.
But the announcement of peace came to a people whose commerce was sadly devastated. Save such of the interest as had been preserved by what Mr. Jefferson termed the Nantucketois, the business of whaling was practically ruined and required rebuilding. To Nantucket the war had, despite its holy necessity and its glorious conclusion, been a heavy burden. Of the little over 150 vessels owned there in 1775, 134 had fallen into the hands of the English and 15 more were lost by shipwreck; many of the young men had perished through the rigors of war;208 in about 800 families on the island there were 202 widows and 343 orphan children; the direct money loss far exceeded $1,000,000 in times when a man's pay was 67 cents per day; one merchant alone lost over $60,000.209 And as it was with Nantucket, so it was in a degree with all the whaling ports.210 With an energy characteristically American, they sought, on the return of peace, to retrieve their losses. Scarcely had the echo of the hostile guns died away, scarcely had the joyful news of peace reached their ports, when the whalemen began to equip anew for their fishery. The Bedford, just returned to Nantucket from a voyage, was immediately loaded with oil and dispatched to London, arriving in the Downs on the 3d of February. Her appearance was thus chronicled by an English magazine of that day: "The ship Bedford, Captain Mooers,211 belonging to the Massachusetts, arrived in the Downs the 3d of February, passed Gravesend the 4th, & was reported at the Custom-House the 6th instant. She was not allowed regular entry until some consultation had taken place between the commissioners of the customs & the lords of council, on account of the many acts of parliament yet in force against the rebels in America. She is loaded with 487 butts of whale oil.; is American built;212 manned wholly by American seamen; wears the rebel colors & belongs to the Island of Nantucket in Massachusetts. This is the first vessel which displayed the thirteen rebellious stripes of America in any British Port. The vessel lies at Horseley down a little below the Tower, and is intended immediately to return to New England?" Immediately after, almost simultaneously with her, arrived another ship from Nantucket the Industry, Capt. John Chadwick, while the sloop Speedwell, James Whippey, master, was sent to Aux Cayes.213 Those at Nantucket who had capital left resumed the whale-fishery with as many vessels as they could procure. Long comparative immunity from capture had caused the whaling-grounds to become repopulated, and the whales themselves had become less shy and hence more easily killed. Directly succeeding the war the products of the fishery commanded good prices, and soon other ports entered into competition. New London, Sag Harbor, Hudson, N. Y., Boston, Hingham, Wellfleet, Braintree,214 Plymouth, Bristol, each sent out one or more whale-hunters. For a brief time the business promised much profit, but the fever was a fitful one. The excessive prices which the commodity commanded immediately after the war215 rapidly became reduced; Great Britain, the only market for the sperm-oil, had, by an alien duty of £18 sterling per ton, practically precluded its shipment from America. Oil which before the war was worth £30, now scarcely brought £17, while to cover expenses and leave a reasonable margin for profit, £25 were required.216 The situation was indeed desperate almost hopeless. ln the discussion of means for relief many of the people of Nantucket expressed tke opinion that if the island could be made neutral, commercial affairs might assume a more healthy tone. A memorial was finally sent to the legislature of Massachusetts praying relief, and the agents presenting it were instructed to have the subject of neutrality acted upon. As may be readily supposed, however, the invidious legislation that Nantucket was unable to obtain during the war, she would scarcely be likely to get on its conclusion, and the subject of neutrality was very properly dismissed. That the depression in the whaling business needed some alleviation was, however, too evident to require discussion, and in 1785 the legislature passed one following preamble and resolution:
"Whereas this court, having a due sense of the high worth and importance of the whale fishery, are desirous of its preservation, not only to this State, but to the United States in general; therefore,
"Resolved, That there be paid, out of the treasury of this commonwealth, the following bounties upon whale-oil, of the different qualities hereafter mentioned, viz: For every ton of white spermaceti oil, five pounds; for every ton of brown or yellow spermaceti oil, sixty shillings; for every ton of whale oil, (so called,) forty shillings, that may be taken or caught by any vessel or vessels, that are or may be owned and manned wholly by the inhabitants of this commonwealth, and landed within the same, from and after the first day of January next, until the further order of the general court."
The selectmen of the various towns were further empowered to appoint sworn inspectors to inspect all oil so lauded, and mark on the head of each cask so inspected the initial letters of his name, and a description of the oil by the initials W. B., or Y. W. O., and deliver to the selectmen a sworn certificate thereof. To obtain the bounty, a certificate from the selectmen must be presented to the governor and council,217 detailing the kind, quality, and amount of oil, and where landed To this certificate the owners were to make oath or affirmation.
But, although the bounty seemed at first beneficial, the ultimate effect was not so good. The business became unduly stimulated and an overproduction prevented to a great degree the desired advance in profit. The demand was greatly limited. A long suspension in the use of oil had accustomed the people in general to the use of tallow candles, and but little oil was required either for towns or for light-houses.
In the mean time, seeing no chance for any amelioration in their condition, unable to carry on a business at a prospective loss, and accustomed from early childhood only to this pursuit, hence unable and unwilling to adventure another, some of the prominent merchants of Nantucket resolved to transfer their business to some place where the demand for their products and the advantageous bounty offered would make it far more remunerative. Among these was William Rotch. On the 4th of July, 1785, Mr. Rotch sailed from Nantucket in the ship Maria, bound for London, arriving there on tha 27th. At as early a day as practicable he opened negotiations with the Chancellor of the Exchequer (William Pitt) for a transfer to England of such of the whale-fishery at Nantucket as he could control.218 The subject was laid before the privy council, and Mr. Rotch waited four mouths for their summons. Finally, in deference to a request of his that some one be appointed to close the matter, he was referred to Lord Hawksbury, a gentleman not very favorably disposed toward America. Mr. Rotch gave him his estimate of the sum necessary to induce a removal, viz, "£100 sterling transportation for a family of five persons, and £100 settlement; £20,000 for a hundred families." Lord Hawksbury demurred to this as a large sum.219 At a subsequent interview Mr. Rotch added to his previous position the demand to bring with him thirty American ships, which demand also met with remonstrance from Lord Hawksbury, who seemed to be of the "penny wise pound foolish" order of statesmen. Mr. Rotch finally took leave of Lord Hawksbury without obtaining any satisfaction, and embarking on board his vessel sailed for France.220 Landing at Dunkirk, he drew up proposals to the French government and forwarded them to Paris. These proposals were eagerly entertained, and the preliminaries were speedily arranged for a transfer of the interest of Mr. Rotch and his family and friends to Dunkirk, from which port, for several years, a very successful fishery was carried on. Contemporary with the negotiations with Mr. Rotch, a letter was dispatched to the people of Nantucket by Capt. Shubael Gardner, from L Coffin, who resided at Dunkirk, stating that his sympathy for the people of that island had led him to apply to the French government in their behalf, and with excellent success. Every request he had made had been granted, and the unlimited freedom, the abundance and cheapness of provisions, the absence of customhouses, the small taxes, the regularity of the town, the manners and industry of the inhabitants, and its situation, rendered it, in his opinion, "the most eligible place in the universe for the people of Nantucket to remove to.221
What effect this state of affairs may have had in the arrangement of treaties of commerce with Great Britain is somewhat uncertain, but the attempt to a consummation of this plan was intrusted to a man not only thoroughly imbued with New England principles, but of sufficient statesmanship to realize of how much national importance this matter was. None knew better than John Adams that the secret of the commercial greatness which should be developed lay in the codevelopment of the fisheries; that herein was the nursery for seamen who would be a source of wealth in peace and of power in war. It was desirable to make duties and courtesies more reciprocal, and one of the first duties intrusted to Mr. Adams on his appointment to the Court of St. James in 1785, was the arrangement of some treaty which should be mutually satisfactory. Naturally one of the principal points was the importation of the products of our fishermen, since that industry perhaps more than any other was in danger of serious injury from the existing condition of things.
In a letter to the Marquis of Carmarthen, dated July 29, 1785, Mr. Adams refers to the trouble accruing from the alien duties laid by England in these words: "The course of commerce, since the peace, between Great Britain and the United States of America, has been such as to have produced many inconveniences to the persons concerned in it on both sides, which become every day more and more sensible. The zeal of Americans to make remittances to British merchants, has been such as to raise the interest of money to double its usual standard, to increase the price of bills of exchange to 8 or 10 per ceutum above par, and to advance the price of the produce of the country to almost double the usual rate. Large sums of the circulating cash, and as much produce as could be purchased at almost any rate, have been remitted to England; but much of this produce lies in store here, because it will not fetch, by reason of the duties and restrictions on it, the price given for it in America. No political arrangements having been made, both the British and American merchants expected that the trade would have returned to its old channels, and nearly under the same regulations, found by long experience to be beneficial; but they have been disappointed. The former have made advances, and the latter contracted debts, both depending upon remittances in the usual articles, and upon the ancient terms, but both have found themselves mistaken, and it is much to be feared that the consequences will be numerous failures. Cash and bills have been chiefly remitted; neither rice, tobacco, pitch, tar, turpentine, ships, oil, nor many other articles, the great sources of remittances formerly, can now be sent as heretofore, because of restrictions and imports, which are new in this commerce, and destructive of it; and the trade with the British West India Islands, formerly a vast source of remittance, is at present obstructed. * * * * * * There is a literal impossibility, my lord, that the commerce between the two countries can continue long to the advantage of either upon the present footing."222 He continues, that these evils will increase, and asserts that it is the desire of the United States to be on good terms commercially with England, and not be driven to other markets with their goods, and he closes by proposing the arrangement of a treaty of commerce between the two countries.
It would be interesting, though not necessary in this connection, to follow the negotiations through each step; to see how the English administration felt compelled to cater to those who upheld the British navigation laws; to see how jealousy of our incipient naval power procrastinated the treaty which it was inevitable must come; to see how self-confident and secure the English felt that our trade must unavoidably come to them; to see, how, an attempt was made to throw the influence of Ireland against America by ostentatious concessions, and how the attempt failed; to see how, finally, the fear of American reciprocity in restrictions led to English reciprocity in concessions; but those things can be more satisfactorily learned from the diplomatic correspondence of the day.223
On the 24th of August Mr. Adams had a conference with Mr. Pitt for the first time in this connection. Passing by the matter of the interview, so far as it relates to the other portions of the proposed treaty, we find that when the treaty of commerce was proposed, Mr. Pitt inquired what were the lowest terms that might be satisfactory to America. Mr. Adams replied that he might not think himself competent to decide that question; that, because of the rapidly increasing feeling in America, affairs had already culminated in Massachusetts in the passage of an act of navigation by that State, showing the tendency of the times, and that the action of England would have much to do in arresting that prejudice; that the five hundred ships employed in the commerce of the United States in 1784 might easily be compelled to become the property of American citizens and navigated wholly by American seamen; that the simple passage of an old English statute, "that none of the King's liege people should ship any merchandise out of, or into the realm, but only in ships of the King's liegance, on pain of forfeiture," modified to suit the American form of government, would effect this; that the nation had the legal right to govern its own commerce; that the ability of the Americans to build ships and the abundance of material they had for that purpose could not be doubted; and that whatever laws England might make, she would be glad to receive and consume considerable American produce, even though imported through France or Holland, and sell us as many of her manufactures as we could pay for, through the same channels. The conversation finally introduced the subject of ships and oil, and Mr. Pitt said to Mr. Adams the Americans "could not think hard of the English for encouraging their own shipwrights, their manufactures of ships, and their own whale-fishery." To which Mr. Adams replied, "By no means, but it appeared unaccountable to the people of America, that this country should sacrifice the general interests of the nation to the private interests of a few individuals interested in the manufacture of ships and in the whale-fishery, so far as to refuse these remittances from America in payment of debts, and for manufactures which would employ so many more people, augment the revenue so considerably, as well as the national wealth, which would, even in other ways, so much augment the shipping and seamen of the nation. It was looked upon in America as reconciling themselves to a diminution of their own shipping and seamen, in a great degree, for the sake of diminishing ours in a small one, besides keeping many of their manufacturers out of employ, who would otherwise have enough to do; and besides greatly diminishing the revenue, and, consequently, contrary to the maxim which he had just acknowledged, that one nation should not hurt itself for the sake of hurting another, nor take measures to deprive another of any advantage without benefitting itself."224 From the questions of comparative gains or losses to either power, and the relations in which France would stand to both, Mr. Pitt led Mr. Adams into a lengthy and useless conversation on the whale-fisheries of the three countries, referring specially to the efforts of M. de Calonne to introduce this pursuit into France, asking suddenly the question "whether we had taken any measures to find a market for our oil anywhere but in France." To this Mr. Adams replied: "I believed we had, and I have been told that some of our oil had found a good market at Bremen; but there could not be a doubt that spermaceti oil might find a market in most of the great cities in Europe which were illuminated in the night, as it is so much better and cheaper than the vegetable oil that is commonly used. The fat of the spermaceti-whale gives the clearest and most beautiful flame of any substance that is known in nature, and we are all surprised
that you prefer darkness, and consequent robberies, burglaries, and murders in your streets, to the receiving, as a remittance, our spermaceti oil. The lamps around Grosvenor Square, I know, and in Downing Street, too, I suppose, are dim by midnight, and extinguished by two o'clock; whereas our oil would burn bright till 9 o'clock in the morning, and chase away, before the watchmen, all the villains, and save you the trouble and danger of introducing a new police into the city."225
But despite the fact that Mr. Pitt appeared more favorable than was anticipated, Mr. Adams did not expect any immediate response to his propositions. The English ministers in their individual capacity seemed singularly timorous, and manifested much fear of committing themselves before joint cabinet action. Adams inclined to the opinion that nothing -short of the convincing eloquence of dire necessity would drive the English ministry from the position they had assumed in regard to the navigation act, and that an answer to his propositions, even at a late day, was doubtful, without Congress authorized similar acts with the United States, and these counter-irritants were actually put in force, to determine on which side the inconvenience was greatest. The great cry in the United Kingdom was: "Shall the United States be our ship-carpenters? Shall we depend upon a foreign nation for our navagation? In case of a war with them, shall we be without ships, or obliged to our enemies for them?" How much this nightmare of inability to cope with their late colonies in anything like a fair field was stimulated by the government is uncertain, but the authorities evidently used no efforts to allay it.226
The effort to bring about the desired compromise continued, as Mr. Adams had judged it would, all the succeeding fall and winter. In January, 1786, Bowdoin wrote to Adams, in reply to a letter from him, that the navigation act of Massachusetts had been so modified as to be only operative against Great Britain, and copies of the repealing act had been sent to the executives of the other States in order to secure harmony of action upon this point. In regard to the effect the existing English laws would have upon the interest which is under consideration here, he wrote:
"It is very true, their encouragement of their whale-fishery, by suffering the alien duty on oil to depress ours, will increase their shipping in this branch, increase their seamen, and, in several other ways, be advantageous to them. To a person that looks no farther, it would appear that this was good policy; and the goodness of it would be inferred from the advantages arising. But when he should extend his view, and see bow that stoppage of the American whale-fishery, by depriving the Americans of so much capital a means of paying for the woolen goods they used to take of Britain, must, at the same time, occasion the American demand to cease, or be proportionately diminished, not to mention the risk of a change or deviation of the trade from the old channel, he will calculate the national profit and loss that arises from that stoppage.
"Three thousand tons of oil was the usual annual quantity produced by the whalemen at Nantucket; all of which was shipped to England, at an average price of £35 per ton, making about £105,500. The whole of which went to pay for and purchase a like amount of woolens and other British goods; nine-tenths of the value of which are computed to arise from the labor of the manufacturer, and to be so much clear gain to the nation. The other tenth, therefore, being deducted, gives the national gain arising from the industry of the Nantucket whalemen, and the capital employed in that business, namely £94,500, without the nation's paying a shilling for the risk of insurance, or any other risk whatever.
"On the change of trade, pursuant to the new regulations, the British merchants must employ a large capital in the whale-fishery, whose products we will suppose equal to that of the Nantucket, £105,000. They will have made an exceeding good voyage, if the whole of that sum should be equal to one half of the cost of the outfits; though, from many of the vessels not meeting with fish, and from a variety of accidents to which such a voyage is subject, it probably would not be a quarter. The whole of the product goes towards payment of the outfits and charges of the voyage, and a large sum must be advanced for the second voyage, &c.
"Now, although this mode of commerce would be productive of some national benefits, yet, considered in a comparative view with the benefits arising from the former mode, they would be found of little importance. A like comparison may be made with other branches of commerce, particularly the British West Indian, and the result will be found the same. For the sake, then, of gaining pence and farthings, Britain is sacrificing pounds by her new regulations of trade. She has a right to see for herself; but, unhappily, resentment and the consequent prejudices have so disordered her powers of vision, that it requires the skilful hand of a good political optician to remove the obstructing films. If she will not permit the application of your couching instruments, or, if applied, they can work no effect, the old lady must be left to her fate, and abandoned as incurable."227
On the 21st of January, 1786, Mr. Adams, in a letter to Secretary Jay, writes: "It will take eighteen months more to settle all matters, exclusive of the treaty of commerce."228 And thus it continued. Argument and persuasion had no effect. Convinced in spite of themselves, they still clung fondly, obstinately, perhaps foolishly, to their obnoxious laws. As late as November, 1787, Mr. Adams writes to Mr. Jay: "They are at present, both at court and in the nation at large, much more respectful to me, and much more tender of the United States, than they ever have been before; but, depend upon it, this will not last; they will aim at recovering back the western lands, at taking away our fisheries, and at the total ruin of our navigation, at least."229 Mr. Adams's position at the court of St. James was terminated, by his urgent request, soon after this, and the question of commercial relations between the two countries was still unsettled.230
This state of affairs was scarcely such as would occasion the utmost harmony. The United States naturally resented this frigid manner of treating our overtures for friendship. In August, 1786, Mr. Jefferson, in a letter from Paris to Mr. Carmichael, writes: "But as to every other nation of Europe,231 I am persuaded Congress will never offer a treaty. If any of them should desire one hereafter, I suppose they will make the first overtures." 232
But while America was exerting herself so unsuccessfully to be allowed to live on terms of civility with England, the whale-fishery carried on from within her borders was languishing.
Like the effect of the heat of the sun on the iceberg, so was the effect of foreign bounties upon the American fishery, dissolving it, breaking off a fragment here and a fragment there. Lured by the promise of English bounties, discouraged with the prospect in America, where the price for oil would scarely repay the cost of procuring it and where there was no market for their chief staple, several of the people of Nantucket removed to the vicinity of Halifax, in Nova Scotia. There, in 1786 and 1787, they settled, building dwellings, wharves, stores, manufactories for sperm-candles and such other structures as were connected with their fishery, and calling their new settlement Dartmouth.233 There they carried on the pursuit for several years prosperously, and gave promise of considerable commercial importance. But the disintegration which commenced at Nantucket continued at Dartmouth, and just as the settlement seemed about to become thrifty and important it began to become divided, pieces again split off, and the village, as a whaling port, soon became a thing of the past. Those who were the earliest to remove from Nantucket soon grew uneasy of their new location, and having greater inducements offered them if they removed to England, again migrated, and settled in Milford Haven, from whence for many years they carried on the business with very considerable success. The parent died in giving birth to the child; Milford Haven flourished, but at the expense of Dartmouth's existence.
France did not view this transfer with indifference. The scheme for the building up of the fishery at Dunkirk by emigration from Nantucket having proven only partially successful,234 it was desirable to inaugurate some other measures to prevent further increase of the business in England. A committee of gentlemen well informed in such matters was instructed to investigate and report on the subject of encouragement of a general commerce with the United States. It was evident that the American whalemen could not be induced to leave their native country if they could support themselves there. The natural inference was, if a market could be opened to their products which would replace the one closed, they would not emigrate. Accordingly upon this point the committee reported in favor of an immediate abatement of the duty upon oil and a promise of a further abatement after the year 1790. The letter of M. de Calonnes (who was in treaty with the Nantucket whalemen), recommending this, was immediately sent to America, and after careful investigation of the subject, the arret of the 29th of December, 1787, ratifying the abatement and promising a further one if the French King found such a proceeding of mutual benefit, was passed.
But the measure in this form had a contrary effect from what was intended. "The English," says Jefferson,235 "had now begun to deluge the markets of France with their whale oils; and they were enabled by the great premiums given by their government, to undersell the French fisherman, aided by feebler premiums, and the American, aided by his poverty alone. Nor is it certain, that these speculations were not made at the risk of the British government, to suppress the French and American fishermen in their only market. Some remedy seemed necessary. Perhaps it would not have been a bad one, to subject, by a general law, the merchandise of every nation, and of every nature, to pay additional duties in the ports of France, exactly equal to the premiums and drawbacks given on the same merchandise, by their own government. This in ight not only counteract the effect of premiums in the instance of whale oils, but attack the whole British system of bounties and drawbacks, by the aid of which, they make London the centre of commerce for the whole earth. A less general remedy, but an effectual one, was, to prohibit the oils of all European nations; the treaty with England requiring only, that she should be treated as well as the most favored European nation. But the remedy adopted was to prohibit all oils, without exception."236 And this on the 20th of September, 1788, only nine months from the passage of the former law.237
Through the exertions of Jefferson this error, political as well as commercial, was remedied, and in December, 1788, the abatement of duties on oils was so arranged as to make the American and the French on the same footing, and cut off all danger of overstocking from European rivals, and in January, 1789, this arrangement received its legal ratification.238
The revival of the business in the United States, and the growing scarcity of whales in the waters heretofore mostly frequented, made the equipping of larger vessels a necessity, and from the sloops and schooners which formerly composed the greater portion of the whaling fleet an advance was made to brigs and ships, and the field still farther extended.239 The sperm-whale being of the most value, the effort to encompass his capture was greater; and he was pursued, as he fled from his old haunts, till the Pacific Ocean was attained.240 At Nantucket the number of vessels soon increased to such an extent that it became necessary to go abroad for men to man them, and some Indians and a large number of negroes were brought from the mainland to aid in, filling the crew-lists. Ups and downs the business had then, as it ever has since. A presumed prosperity induced competition, the markets became glutted, and oil was sold at less than the cost of production. The price of whalebone became reduced to 10 cents per pound and less, instead of commanding a dollar as it did prior to the Revolution. The disturbances between England and France, and the internal commotions to which the latter country was subjected, effectually annulled the effect of the French arret of 1789. So disastrously did these things affect whaling that the quarrels of France and England forced many Nantucket men to sell their vessels, others to dismantle and lay theirs up, while a few still held on, some making a little profit, the majority suffering a severe loss.
In 1798241 came the threats of disturbance between France and the United States. French privateers in the excess of their zeal preyed upon American commerce as well as upon that of the powers with whom they were in direct conflict. A large number of vessels fell victims to these depredators, and the friendly relations existing somewhat precariously between France and the United States became nearly supplanted by a state of actual warfare. The whaling interest, as usual, was among the earliest sufferers. Early in 1799 many parties in Nantucket sold their ships rather than fit them out at the risk of capture. News began to reach the island that vessels were already captured, and the business of the islanders both in fishing and trading almost ceased. Instead of fitting out a dozen ships for whaling but two or three were fitted, and sadness and gloom shrouded every face. The difficulties were finally adjusted and business resumed its old channels, but the losses which the unfortunate Nantucketers sustained by the unjustifiable, piratical depredations, though settled to the satisfaction of our Government and duly receipted for, with others, by the United States, have never been remunerated, while some of the unlucky owners, officers, and underwriters, in comfortable circumstances at the commencement of these troubles, lost their little property, the accumulations of years, and died in poverty.242 These unauthorized captures were not confined exclusively to the French, for in 1800 the Spanish authorities at Valparaiso, emulating the hostility to a power ostensibly at peace with them, which the French had shown, seized and condemned the whale-ships Miantonomah, of Norwich, and Tryal, of Nantucket.243
From this time till the opening of the second war with England, whaling was pursued with a gradually-augmenting fleet. And this in the face of the uncertainties which the increasingly critical state of affairs between the United States and England occasioned. In 1802 Nantucket added five ships to her fleet, and New London sent her first large vessel,244 and in 1806 the quantity of oil imported into the country was considerably in excess of the consumption.
The embargo act, of 1807, almost suspended the pursuit, not so much by actual proscription as because of the impossibility of effecting insurance upon the vessels, but it soon received another impetus on account of the prospect of a general peace throughout Europe.
The commencement of the war of 1812 found a large portion of the whaling-fleet at sea. Trusting that the causes of contention between England and America would be removed without the necessity of a final appeal to arms, many owners had fitted out their ships. This was particularly the case at Nantucket, from which port a large proportion of the fleet had sailed for the Pacific Ocean on voyages varying from about two years to two years and a half.245 With the reception of the news of the declaration of war a large portion of the vessels in the North and South Atlantic, and some of those in the Pacific, turned their prows homeward, hoping to make the home port before the seas swarmed with letters-of-marque and national vessels of war. Many of these vessels from Nantucket on arriving home sailed thence immediately for Boston, Newport, New Bedford, or some other fortified port, where they could ride out the storm of war in security. After the month of July, 1812, was ushered in, reports of the capture of whaling-vessels came thick and fast to Nantucket.246 First came the news of the taking and burning of the schooner Mount Hope, David Cottle master. In quick succession they learned of the capture of the Alligator, Hope, Manilla, Ocean (brig), Ranger, Fame,247 Rose, Renown,247 Sterling, Edward, Gardner, Monticello, Chili, Rebecca, and others, and it may be easily imagined that the prospect for the islanders had but little in it that appeared encouraging. New Bedford, too, although at this time her interest in this business was far less than that of Nantucket, suffered from the capture of her whaling-vessels.248
Again did war put an effectual stop to the pursuit of whaling from every port of the United States save Nantucket, and again were the inhabitants of that town, knowing no business except through their shipping, compelled to strive to carry their commercial marine through the tempest of fire as free from complete destruction as possible. A new source of danger presented itself. Prior to the declaration of war between Great Britain and America our whalemen on the coast of Peru249 had often suffered from piratical acts of the Peruvian privateers, being continually plundered and cut out from Chilian ports whither they had gone to recruit. The chronic state of affairs on this coast being one of war, the Government of the United States had sent the Hon. Joel R. Poinsett, of South Carolina, to those parts to see that American commerce was suitably protected, but for several months his remonstrances had been worse than useless. The declaration of war between England and the United States gave the Peruvian corsairs a fresh pretext for the exercise of their plundering propensities. They claimed that they were the allies of England, and as such were entitled to capture the vessels of any power with which she was at war. An expedition was equipped by the authorities of Lima and sent on its marauding way. This army succeeded in capturing the towns of Conception and Talcahuano. In the latter port was a large number of American ships, many of them whalemen, who, having obtained their cargoes of oil, had put in to recruit with provisions and water before making the homeward voyage. Among these were the ships Criterion, Mary Ann, Monticello, Chili, John and James, Lima, Lion, Sukey, Gardner, President, Perseverance, and Atlas, of Nantucket.
This was in April, 1813. These vessels were detained in the harbor by the Limian armament, which consisted of two men-of-war, with about 1,500 troops. Having found a bag containing about $800 on board the President, they carried her captain, Solomon Folger, ashore under a guard and imprisoned the remaining officers and crew, excepting the mate, one boat-steerer, and the cook.
Learning of this condition of affairs, Poinsett immediately joined the Chilian army and directed its movements. On the 15th of May a battle was fought between the contending forces near the town of San Carlos, but when the day had closed neither side could claim the victory. Taking advantage of the cover of the night, Poinsett put himself at the head of 400 picked men, with three pieces of light artillery, and, leaving the main body, marched directly to Talcahuano, whither the enemy had withdrawn. The town was immediately carried by storm and the detained whalemen were released.250 Some of the ships having had their papers destroyed, Poinsett furnished them with consular certificates. The friendly regard for the United States which diplomatic address and persuasion had been unable to obtain, were secured in a much shorter time and probably far more efficaciously by force of arms, and Lima yielded to muskets and cannon the respect she had been unwilling to concede to the seal of the Department of State. Her depredations on American commerce did not, however, entirely cease until the advent of Captain Porter in those waters.251 Soon after this the United States Government, realizing the defenseless condition of our commerce in the Pacific, dispatched Porter to that locality to protect our interests. Up to the time of the capture of his vessel he had not only done all in his power in this direction, but had effectually destroyed the English whale-fishery in those seas, and so turned the tables upon the enemy who had sent out his whale-ships well armed and manned to perform the same kindly office toward our whalemen.252
Up to the latter part of the year 1813 the people of Nantucket had fished unmolested both for cod-fish and for humpback whales on the shoals at the eastward of the island, and by this means eked out a livelihood which was beginning to be quite precarious, but this resort was now taken from them. An English privateer, during the fall, appeared among the fleet, capturing one Nantucket vessel, and driving away the remainder. In this dilemma a town-meeting was assembled and a petition prepared and forwarded to Congress representing the situation there, and praying that some arrangement might be entered into "whereby the fisheries may be prosecuted, without being subject to losses by war."253 But no adequate relief was afforded, and the people found the history of their sufferings during the Revolution repeating itself with a distressing pertinacity and fidelity, and they bade fair to perish of starvation and cold. They eventually succeeded in obtaining permission to import provisions, but attempts to get leave to sail on whaling voyages, coupled with immunity from capture, were unsuccessful.
The return of peace effected for them the protection that all negotiations had failed to secure. Early in February, 1815, news came to Nantucket that the war was over, and immediately all was hurry and bustle. The wharves, lately so deserted, teemed with life; the ships, lately dismantled, put on their new dress; the faces of the people, lately so disconsolate, were radiant with hope. In May two ships fitted and sailed on their voyages; by the last of June this number was increased to nine; by the 1st of August eighteen had gone, and by the 31st of December over thirty ships, brigs, schooners, and sloops were pursuing the leviathans in the North and South Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific Oceans. On the 9th of July, 1815, the first returning whaling-vessel arrived at Nantucket; in all probability this was the first arrival at any port in the United States after the war. This vessel was the sloop Mason's Daughter, which, after a six weeks' voyage, returned with 100 barrels of oil.
From this period the business rapidly increased in extent. Nantucket, which, during the war of 1812, had had its fleet of whale-ships reduced from forty-six to twenty-three, by the last of December, 1820, possessed seventy-two whale-ships, (with an aggregate of 20,449 tons,) besides several brigs, schooners, and sloops.254 The same success which had advanced Nantucket so rapidly served to stimulate other ports, and New York, Long Island, New London, Cape Cod, Boston, and more particularly New Bedford, entered more vigorously into competition,255 and but a few years elapsed before the latter port, which was an offshoot, a child as it were of Nantucket, had far outstripped the extremest growth of the parent. In the mean time the same love of adventure, the same longing to explore new fields, the same yearning to more speedily return home with a full cargo, that sent our whalemen from home to the West Indies and the Cape de Verdes, from the Cape de Verdes to the shores of Africa and Brazil, to the Falklands and the coast of Patagonia, from Patagonia to the Pacific coast of South America, urged them still further.256 In 1818 Capt. George W. Gardner, in the ship Globe of Nantucket, steering west from the old track, found, in latitude 5Ί to 10Ί south and longitude 105Ί to 125Ί west, a cruising ground where the objects of his search seemed to exist in almost countless numbers. This he termed the "Off-shore Ground," and, within two years, more than fifty ships were whaling in the same locality.
The next cruising ground was off the coast of Japan. Having received word from Captain Winship, of Brighton, Mass., who had friends at Nantucket, that on a recent voyage from China to the Sandwich Islands be had seen large numbers of sperm-whales on that coast, Captain Joseph Allen, in the ship Maro, was dispatched there in the fall of 1819. In 1821 six or seven ships were cruising in this vicinity, and in the following year257 more than thirty visited that field.
The grouping of whalemen upon the various grounds as they were discovered soon caused the slaughter or dispersion of the whales, and as a necessary consequence new fields must be opened up to supply the demand that had become rapacious. Since the close of the war of 1812, not only had the number of vessels in the various recognized whaling ports become greatly augmented, but every year witnessed the creation of new ports from whence this crusade against the whale was relentlessly pursued. Our vessels spread in their courses rapidly to all parts of the Pacific, and hundreds of islands received their first visit from white men from the adventurous captors of these cetaceans.258 The navigation of those waters was then a far different thing from what it at present is. The sea was comparatively unknown; what charts there were in existence were full of inaccuracies, and the first intimation that many a vessel had that she was sailing on dangerous ground was the splash of the breakers close at hand, or the grinding of her keel upon the treacherous rocks. Nor were the dangers of the seas the only risks which they experienced. The natives of many of the numerous groups of islands, with which the Pacific is so thickly studded, were more relentless than the waves, more treacherous than the reefs, and after the first emotions of surprise and awe the firing of a gun caused among them were over, woe to the ill-fated crew which fell into their clutches. It must be acknowledged that, in far too many cases, their barbarities were perpetrated in revenge for injuries received at the hands of some preceding ship's crew,259 but they were not punctillious as to whether the actual culprit was punished or one of his kind -- they warred against the race and not individuals. Many vessels carried with them the various gewgaws which would please the savage eye for the purpose of trading among the islands, and these, in cases where the natives were not sadly overreached, served to excite their cupidity and invite attack.
So large a portion of our fishing-fleet visited the Pacific that the United States was finally forced, when petition after petition had been sent to Congress, to send an exploring expedition to those seas, the ostensible purpose of which was to render the navigation of that ocean more secure as well in respect to the dangers of the land as in regard to those of the sea.
In 1828 four ships were sent from Nantucket to the coast of Zanzibar for sperm whales, and they cruised in the vicinity of the Seychelle Islands, and off the mouth of the Red Sea. Indeed, such was the vigor with which the new haunts were sought for that one adventurous captain even invaded the Red Sea itself in the pursuit of his occupation.260
In the year 1835 commenced that period of whaling which might be termed its Golden Age, for during the next decade the whale-fishery assumed its greatest importance and reached the zenith of its commercial value. In this year (1835) the ship Ganges of Nantucket, Barzillai T. Folger, master, took the first right whale ever taken on the Kodiak ground. This was the commencement of this fishery on the northwest coast. From this period the fleet rapidly augmented in size to the year 1846, when there belonged to the various ports of the United States 678 ships and barks, 35 brigs, and 22 schooners, with an aggregate capacity of 233,189 tons, and valued at $21,075,000.261
In 1843, the first bow-head whales taken in the North Pacific were captured on the coast of Kamschatka by the ships Hercules, Captain Ricketson, and Janus, Captain Turner, both of New Bedford.262
In 1848, Captain Royce, in the bark Superior, of Sag Harbor, passed through Behring's Straits, and performed a good season's work. Being the first whaler in those seas he found the whales comparatively tame and easy to strike. In this high latitude,263 at the season of his whaling there, the pursuit could be made at any hour of the twenty-four; in fact, the first whale taken was captured at 12 o'clock at night. The field thus opened was speedily vexed with the keels of our adventurous whalemen, and within the next three years two hundred and fifty ships had obtained cargoes of oil there. The season for Arctic whaling is short, and the pursuit of the whale at times extremely dangerous. Often, when struck, the wounded animal makes for the ice, and, unless killed before that barrier is gained, escapes with the harpoons and lines. Fogs are frequent and dense, and while these last the ringing of bells, firing of guns, blowing of horns, and pounding on empty casks, as the ships pierce through the mists, indicate their position. as well to avoid collision with each other as to recall the missing boats, if any are out. It frequently happens that the crew of such a boat will fail to find their own ship, and will meet with some other; in which case they have no hesitation in repairing on board the stranger, there to remain until the fog lifts and they can find their own vessel.264
The fishery continued with varying success until the year 1847. Fluctuations in the business were constant, and with many ports the tide of success seemed to ebb and flow with quite as measured a rythm[sic] as the alternating rise and fall of old ocean. A few years of success overstimulated the business, new ships were added, and the natural result of overstocking the market and a fall in prices ensued. This was quite as much the case in 1830, when the imports of oil amounted to 106,829 barrels of sperm and 86,274 barrels of whale, as in 1845, when 157,917 barrels of sperm and 272,730 barrels of whale were brought in.265 Then came losses, and as whales became more scarce and voyages were more prolonged and far more expensive, these reverses became more and more serious, until individual owners dropped out of the corporations, corporations became extinct in the ports, and finally the ports themselves became disconnected with the business.266
The war of the rebellion came with a suddenness that was entirely unexpected to the larger portion of the people of the North. The ignis fatuus of compromise beguiled them on with illusory hopes of peace, and when the storm finally burst it found them wholly unprepared. No special commercial interest was in a poorer state to withstand war than the whale-fishery. Ships were in various portions of the Pacific, on voyages averaging nearly four years, and were gone from port months at a time. If they were communicated with, the remedy was scarcely better than the disease. To go into port and there lay idle was quite as disastrous -- even more so -- to the owners than to continue their perilous calling at the hazard of capture by southern privateers.
But whalemen in the Pacific continued for several years unmolested. Those engaged in rebellion were unable to fit out the throng of privateers which their disposition prompted them to do. The first vessels of the fleet to suffer from the depredations of such letters-of-marque as they were able to equip were three Atlantic whalers from Provincetown, the John Adams, Mermaid, and Parana, the first two schooners and the last a brig. They were captured when about 90 miles south of Balize, within the period of two hours, by the privateer Calhoun, formerly the tug-boat W. H. Webb, of New York. The vessels with their cargoes, about 215 barrels of sperm oil, were burned, and the sixty-three men composing their crews were taken to New Orleans and there left to shift for themselves.267
Several rebel privateers were soon cruising on the Atlantic whalinggrounds, and in the track of outward and homeward bound Pacific whalers. They adopted a device to ensnare their victims, which can but be severely reprobated as inhuman. Capturing a vessel they waited until night had fallen upon the scene, and then, firing her, they pounced upon the unfortunates who, obeying the natural impulses of humanity, bore down for the burning craft to save the lives they believed to be endangered. In this way several whale-ships fell victims to this atrocious device.268
Naturally, with these risks staring them in the face, the owners were in no haste to refit such of their returning vessels as evaded rebel cruisers. Ships were sold, transferred to the merchant service, or laid up to await a change in affairs. Some in the Pacific were put under the Hawaiian flag. Of those sold, forty were purchased by the United States and formed the larger portion of the two famous stone fleets, which, in 1861, were sunk off the harbors of Charleston and Savannah to prevent the entrance of blockade: runners and the ingress and escape of privateers.269
In 1865 the privateer steamer Shenandoah entered the Pacific Ocean, and on the 26th of June she captured and burned five ships and barks in Behring's Straits.270 On the 27th of June the ship Brunswick, of New Bedford, having got jammed in the ice, those of the fleet that were near went to her assistance. The wind dying away, they anchored close to each other. The next morning the Shenandoah appeared upon the scene and captured and destroyed nine of them. Among these was the bark Favorite, of Fairhaven, Capt. Thos. G. Young, a man between sixty and seventy years of age, but full of courage and determination. It was no part of his creed to see his ship (in which he was part owner) given up without a struggle, however great the odds or however hopeless the resistance. Accordingly he loaded all his bomb-guns and firearms and took a position on the cabin roof. As the Shenandoah's boat came alongside he ordered her officer to "stand off," an order which, when he saw the look of mischief in the captain's eye, he prudently obeyed, and lost no time in returning to his vessel to report his lack of progress. The commander of the privateer had perceived the action of the boat, and ordered a gun trained upon the whaler and that his gunner should fire low. In the mean time the officers of the Favorite, deeming resistance as worse than useless, urged Captain Young to desist, assuring him that it was only a fruitless sacrifice of his life, to which the captain replied that he would die willingly if he could but shoot Waddell, who commanded the Shenandoah. Finding remonstrance useless, the officers secretly removed the caps from the loaded arms, removed the ammunition not already in the guns, and took to the boats, leaving the heroic old captain to defend the castle, in which his entire property was invested, alone.
The gun from the Shenandoah was not discharged, as the returning boat was in range; and when it had reached the steamer Waddell had changed his mind, and ordered another boat to capture the obdurate skipper. As she came alongside, the officer in charge ordered Captain Young to haul down his colors. In language more forcible than polite he replied, "I'll see you d----d first." "If you don't," said the officer of the boat, "I'll shoot you." "Shoot and be d----d," returned the imperturbable Young. The crew of the boat were now ordered to board the Favorite; and as the captain pulled the trigger to his gun and in effectually endeavored to explode the charge, he saw the defenceless condition in which he had been left, and realized that he had nothing to do but to surrender. His inhuman captors, who were unable to appreciate bravery, put him in irons in the topgallant forecastle, and robbed him of his money, his watch, and even of his shirt-studs.
Capt. Ebenezer F. Nye, of the ship Abigail, of New Bedford, which ship was also captured and burned in the Ochotsk Sea by the Shenandoah in June, manned two boats before his ship was in the privateer's possession, and started for the rest of the fleet to warn them of the impending danger.
In all, the Shenandoah captured and burned thirty-four ships and barks, and captured and bonded the Milo, the General Pike, and the James Maury, of New Bedford, and the Nile, of New London.
During the war for the maintenance of our national integrity, the seaport towns responded with the utmost alacrity to the calls for men and for money. Our gallant whalemen hastened to defend the flag, and enlisted in large numbers in the Navy as more congenial with their inclinations. A large portion of the officers in this branch of our service had gathered their experience on the deck of a whaler, and tested their courage in a whale-boat; and it is safe to assert that no braver men defended and no more experienced seamen navigated those castles of oak and of iron that sustained in these later years the renown our Navy won in the war of 1812.271
The rebellion over, renewed activity took place in the whaling world. Ships that had been laid up were rigged and sent away, and new ships were again added to the fleet. The business was carried on with caution, for the inroads made upon the trade by the general use of coal-oils were becoming matters of serious consideration.
In the fall of 1871 came news of a terrible disaster to the Arctic fleet, rivaling in its extent the depredations of the rebel cruiser. Off Point Belcher thirty-four vessels lay crushed and mangled in the ice; in Honolulu were over twelve hundred seamen who by this catastrophe were shipwrecked.
Early in May the fleet arrived south of Cape Thaddeus, where they found the ice closely packed, and the wind blowing strong from the northeast.272 This state of affairs continued during the most of the month. June came in with light and variable winds and foggy weather; but the ice opening somewhat, the ships pushed through in sight of Cape Navarine, where they took five or six whales, and for a short time heard many more spouting among the ice. About the middle of June the ice opened still more, and the fleet passed on through Anadir Sea, taking a few whales as they went. By the 30th of June the vessels had passed through Behring's Straits, preceded by the whales. Waiting the further breaking up of the ice, they commenced catching walruses, but with comparatively poor success. During the latter part of July, the ice disappearing from the east shore south of Cape Lisburne, the fleet pushed on to the eastward, following the ice, the principal portion of which was in latitude 69Ί 10'. A clear strip of water appearing on the east shore, leading along the land to the northeast, they worked along through it to within a few miles of Icy Cape. Here some of the vessels anchored, unable to proceed farther on account of the ice lying on Blossom Shoals.
About the 6th of August the ice on the shoals started, and several ships got under way. In a few days most of the fleet was north of the shoals, and, aided by favorable weather, they worked to the northeast as far as Wainwright inlet, eight vessels reaching there on the 7th. Here the ships either anchored or made fast to the ice, which was very heavy and densely packed, and whaling was carried on briskly for several days, and every encouragement was given for a favorable catch. On the 11th of August a sudden change of wind set the ice inshore, catching a large number of boats which were cruising for whales in the open ice, and forcing the ships to get under way to avoid being crushed. The vessels worked inshore under the lee of the ground ice, and succeeded, despite the difficulties of the situation, in saving their boats by hauling them for long distances over the ice, some of them, however, being badly stoven. On the 13th the ice grounded, leaving a narrow strip of water along the land tip to Point Belcher. In this open water lay the fleet anchored or fast to the ice, waiting for the expected northeast wind that was to relieve them of their icy barrier, whaling constantly being carried on by the boats, though necessarily under many adversities.
On the 15th of August the wind came around to the westward, driving the ice still closer to the shore and compelling the vessels to work close in to the land. The drift of the ice inland was so rapid that some of the vessels were compelled to slip their cables, there being no time to weigh anchor. By this event the fleet was driven into a narrow strip of water not over half a mile in width at its widest part. Here, seattered along the coast for 20 miles, they lay, the water from 14 to 24 feet deep, and ice as far as the lookouts at the mastheads could see. Whaling was still carried on with the boats off Sea-Horse Island and Point Franklin, although the men were obliged to cut up the whales on the ice and tow the blubber to the ships.
On the 25th a strong northeast gale set in and drove the ice to a distance of from four to eight miles off shore, and renewed attention was given to the pursuit of the whale. Up to this time no immediate danger had been anticipated by the captains beyond that incidental to their usual sojourn in these seas. The Esquimaux, nevertheless, with the utmost friendliness, advised them to get away with all possible speed as the sea would not again open, but this was contrary to the Arctic experience of the whalemen, and they resolved to hold their position.
On the 29th began the series of conflicting circumstances resulting in the destruction of the fleet. A southwest wind sprang up, light in the morning, but freshening so toward evening that the ice returned inshore with such rapidity as to catch some of the ships in the pack. The rest of the fleet retreated ahead of the ice, and anchored in from three to four fathoms of water, the ice still coming in and small ice packing around them. The heavy floe-ice grounded in shoal-water and between it and the shore lay the ships, with scarcely room to swing at their anchors.
On the 2d of September the big[sic] Comet was caught by the heavy ice and completely crushed, her crew barely making their escape to the other vessels. She was pinched until her timbers all snapped and the stern was forced out, and hung suspended for three or four days, being in the mean time thoroughly wrecked by the other vessels; then the ice relaxed its iron grip and she sunk. Still our hardy whalemen hoped that the looked-for northeasterly gale would come, and felt greater uneasiness on account of the loss of time than because of their present peril. Their experience could not point to the time when the favoring gale had failed to assure their egress. Nothing but ice was visible offshore, however, the only clear water being where they lay, and that narrowed to a strip from 200 yards to half a mile in width, and extending from Point Belcher to two or three miles south of Wainright Inlet. The southeast and southwest winds still continued, light from the former and fresh from the latter direction, and every day the ice packed more and more closely around the doomed vessels.
On the 7th of September the bark Roman, while cutting-in a whale, was caught between two immense floes of ice off Sea-Horse Islands, whence she had helplessly drifted, and crushed to atoms, the officers and crew escaping over the ice, saving scarcely anything but their lives.
The next day beheld the bark Awashonks meet a similar fate, and a third fugitive crew was distributed among the remaining ships. The peril was now apparent to all; the season was rapidly approaching the end; the ice showed no signs of starting, but on the contrary the little clear water that remained was rapidly filling with ice and closing around them. Frequent and serious were the consultations held by the captains of the beleagured vessels. One thing at least was evident without discussion; if the vessels could not be extricated the crews must be got away before winter set in, or the scanty stock of provisions they had could only postpone an inevitable starvation. As a precautionary measure, pending a decision on the best course to adopt, men were set to work to build up the boats, that is, to raise the gunwales so as to enable them the better to surmount the waves. Shoes273 were also put on them to prevent, as far as possible, injury from the ice. The brig Kohola was lightened in order to get her over the bar at Wainwright Inlet, upon which there were only 5 or 6 feet of water. Her oil and stores were transferred to the deck of the Charlotte, of San Francisco, but when discharged it was found that she still drew 9 feet of water, and the attempt to get her over the shoal water was abandoned.274 An expedition of three boats, under the command of Capt. D. R. Frazer, was now sent down the coast to ascertain how far the ice extended; what chances there were of getting through the barrier; what vessels, if any, were outside, and what relief could be relied upon. Captain Frazer returned on the 12th, and reported that it was utterly impracticable to get any of the main body of the fleet out; that the Arctic and another vessel were in clear water below the field, which extended to the south of Blossom Shoals, 80 miles from the imprisoned crafts; and that five more vessels, then fast in the lower edge of the ice, were likely to get out soon. He also reported, what every man then probably took for granted, that these free vessels would lay by to aid their distressed comrades. It is a part of the whaleman's creed to stand by his mates. On hearing this reported, it was decided to abandon the fleet and make the best of their way, while they could, to the rescuing vessels. It was merely a question whether they should leave their ships and save their lives, or stand by their ships and perish with them.
The morning of the 14th of September came, and a sad day it was to the crews of the ice-bound crafts. At noon the signals, flags at the mast-heads, union down, were set, which told them the time had come when they must sever themselves from their vessels.275 As a stricken family feels when the devouring flames destroy the home which was their shelter, and with it the little souvenirs and priceless memorials which had been so carefully collected and so earnestly treasured, so feels the mariner when compelled to tear himself from the ship which seems to him at once parent, friend, and shelter. In these vessels lay the result of all the toil and danger encountered by them since leaving home. Their chests contained those little tokens received from or reserved for friends thousands of miles away, and nothing could be taken with them save certain prescribed and indispensable articles. With heavy hearts they entered their boats and pulled away, a mournful, almost funereal, flotilla, toward where the vessels lay that were to prove their salvation. Tender women and children were there who, by their presence, sought to relieve the tedium of a long voyage to their husbands and fathers, and the cold north wind blew pitilessly over the frozen sea, chilling to the marrow the unfortunate fugitives.
The first night out the wanderers encamped on the beach behind the sand hills. A scanty supply of fire-wood they had with them and such drift-wood as they could collect sufficed to make a fire to protect them somewhat from the chilling frost. The sailors dragged boats over the hills, and by turning them bottom upward and covering them with sails, made quite comfortable habitations for the women and children. The rest made themselves comfortable as best they could.
"On the second day out." says Captain Prehle, "the boats reached Blossom Shoals, and there spied the refuge-vessels lying five miles out from shore, and behind a tongue of ice that stretched like a great peninsula ten miles farther down the coast, and around the point of which the weary crews were obliged to pull before they could get aboard. The weather here was very bad, the wind blowing fresh from the southwest, causing a sea that threatened the little craft with annihilation. Still the hazardous journey had to be performed, and there was no time to be lost in setting about it. * * * * All submitted to this new danger with becoming cheerfulness, and the little boats started on their almost hopeless voyage, even the women and children smothering their apprehensions as best they could. On the voyage along the inside of the icy point of the peninsula everything went moderately well; but on rounding it, they encountered the full force of a tremendous southwest gale and a sea that would have made the stoutest ship tremble. In this fearful sea the whale-boats were tossed about like pieces of cork. They shipped quantities of water from every wave which struck them, requiring the utmost diligence of all hands at bailing to keep them afloat. Everybody's clothing was thoroughly saturated with the freezing brine, while all the bread and flour in the boats was completely spoiled. The strength of the gale was such that the ship Arctic, after getting her portion of the refugees on board, parted her chain-cable and lost her port anchor, but brought up again with her starboard anchor, which held until the little fleet was ready to sail."
By four o'clock in the afternoon of the second day all were distributed among the seven vessels that formed the remnant of the fleet that sailed for the Arctic Ocean the previous spring. Not a person was lost to add to the grief already felt or to increase the gloom of their situation. To the Europa was assigned 280; to the Arctic, 250; to the Progress, 221; to the Lagoda, 195; to the Daniel Webster, 113; to the Midas, 100; and to the Chance, 60: in all 1,219 souls in addition to their regular crews. On the 24th of October the larger portion of these vessels reached Honolulu, and the remaining ones of the seven speedily followed.276
On the receipt of the news of this disaster, more particularly in New Bedford, great excitement was occasioned. The value of the wrecked vessels sailing from that port alone exceeded, with their cargoes, one million of dollars. But the owners of whaling-vessels were not the men to yield supinely to a single misfortune, however overpowering it might seem, and the ensuing year twenty-seven ships were busy in the Arctic, and in 1873 twenty-nine visited that precarious sea.
Still whaling in general continued to decline. The sun of its destiny was moving toward its western horizon. Whether some modern Joshua shall command it to stand still, or whether it shall move still nearer its fall setting, is yet uncertain. Some oil will still be used until its perfect substitute is produced at so low a rate that the expenses of whaling will entirely absorb its profits.
On the 1st of January, 1877, the entire fleet was reduced to 112 ships and barks, and 51 brigs and schooners, having a total capacity of 37,828 tons.277
Before closing this chapter it would be well to see to what causes this decline is attributable. Many circumstances have operated to bring this about. The alternate stimulus and rebuff which the fishery received as a short supply and good prices led to additions to the fleet and an overstock and decline in values, were natural, and in themselves probably formed no positive impediment. The increase in population would have caused an increase in consumption beyond the power of the fishery to supply, for even at the necessarily high prices people would have had light. But other things occurred. The expense of procuring oil was yearly increasing when the oil-wells of Pennsylvania were opened, and a source of illumination opened at once plentiful, cheap, and good. Its dangerous qualities at first greatly checked its general use, but, these removed, it entered into active, relentless competition with whale-oil, and it proved the more powerful of the antagonistic forces.
The length of voyages increased from two years for a cargo of sperm and from nine to fifteen months for a cargo of whale oil to four years to fill with the latter, while the former was practically abandoned as a separate business278 after it became necessary to make voyages of four, five, and even six years, and then seldom return with a full cargo. As a matter of necessity the fitting of ships became far more expensive,279 a rivalry in the furnishing adding perhaps considerably to the outlay. Vessels were obliged to refit each season at the various islands in the Pacific, usually at the port of Honolulu when passing in its vicinity, and the bills drawn upon the owners on these occasions were so enormous as to call forth loud and frequent complaints;280 and in later years the only available western fishery was in the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans, where disasters were the rule and immunity from them the exception, thereby incurring, when the vessels were not lost, heavy bills for repairs, besides the ordinary ones of refitting.
Again, during the later days of whaling, more particularly immediately after the discovery of the gold mines in California, desertions from the ships were numerous and often causeless, generally in such numbers as to seriously cripple the efficiency of the ship. In this way large numbers of voyages were broken up and hundreds of thousands of dollars were sunk by the owners. During a portion of the time many ships were fired by their refractory and mutinous crews, some of them completely destroyed, others damaged in amounts varying from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Crews would apparently ship simply as a cheap manner of reaching the gold mines, and a ship's company often embraced among its number desperadoes from various nations, fit for any rascality which might best serve them to attain their end. They took no interest in the voyage, nor cared aught for the profit or loss that might accrue to the owners. In order to recruit, it became necessary, particularly during the ten years next succeeding the opening of the gold mines, to offer heavy advance-wages, and too often these were paid to a set of bounty jumpers, as such men were termed in the Army during the late war, who only waited the time when the ship made another port to clandestinely dissolve connection with her and hold themselves in readiness for the next ship. Unquestionably there were times when men were forced to desert to save their lives from the impositions and severity of brutal captains, but such cases were undoubtedly very rare. Formerly the crews were composed almost wholly of Americans, but latterly they were largely made up of Portuguese shipped at the Azores, a mongrel set shipped anywhere along the western coast of South America, and Kanakas shipped at the Pacific islands. There were times, when the California fever was at its highest, that the desertions did not stop with the men, but officers and even captains seem to vie with the crew in defrauding the men from whose hands they had received the property to hold in charge and increase in value.
Another source of loss was, strangely enough, to be found in the course of the consular agents sent out by our Government to protect the interests of our whalemen. Many and bitter were the complaints at the extortionate charges and percentages demanded by many of these men.281
As another important source of the decline in this business must be regarded the scarcity and shyness of whales. Prior to the year 1830, a ship with a capacity for 2,000 barrels would cruise in the Pacific Ocean and return in two years with a cargo of sperm -oil. The, same ship might go to Delago or Woolwich Bay and fill with whale-oil in about fifteen months, or to the coast of Brazil and return in nine months full of the oil peculiar to the whales of those seas; but, as has been previously remarked, this has all changed, and the length of the voyage has become entirely disproportioned to the quantity of oil returned.
Briefly, then, this is the case. Whaling as a business has declined; 1st, from the scarcity and shyness of whales, requiring longer and more expensive voyages; 2d, extravagance in fitting out and in refitting; 3d, the character of the men engaged; 4th, the introduction of coal-oils.
Of late years sperm whaling in the Atlantic Ocean has been revived with some success, but the persistency with which any field is followed up, makes its yield at least but temporary. It may perhaps be a question worthy of serious consideration whether it is policy for the United States Government to introduce the use of coal-oils into its light-house and similar departments, to replace the sperm-oil now furnished from our whaling ports, and thus still further hasten the ultimate abandonment of a pursuit upon the resources of which it draws so heavily in the day of its trouble,282 or whether this market -- the only aid asked from the Government -- may still continue at the expense of a few dollars more per year.
F. THE DANGERS OF THE WHALE-FISHERY.
Notwithstanding the many perils encountered in this pursuit, perils arising from the necessary exploration of new fields to replenish the supply which constantly fails in the old, perils arising from the nature of the cruising-grounds themselves which include the stormiest, most labyrinthine, and most treacherous of seas, and those most subject to typhoons, perils arising too from the very nature of their calling to the men themselves, the casualties are no more at least than fall to the lot of those who follow the sea in other pursuits. Shipwrecks there are, dreary boat-voyages for hundreds of miles, with the terrible accompaniments of death from hunger and thirst, and men fall victims to the strength and ferocity of the gigantic object of their pursuit. Ships sail from port and are never heard of more, or if heard of, it is the casual report of some passing vessel, ships to which the beautiful language of Irving is most appropriate, that have too truly "gone down amidst the roar of the tempest; their bones lie whitening among the caverns of the deep. Silence, oblivion, like the waves, have closed over them and no one can tell the story of their end." But with a greater risk there seems to be no greater mortality than may be found in the lists of the merchant service.
No nobler class of men, no more skillful navigators, ever trod any deck than those who have shipped upon our whalemen. Those in command are brave and daring without recklessness, quick to act in an emergency, but prudently guarding the lives of their men and the safety of their ship; self-reliant but self-possessed.283 Every ship is fully manned, and discipline is intended to be fully enforced; hence when immediate action is required by the exigencies of the storm or other threatening circumstances, there is no lack of ready hands to execute any order which may issue from those in authority.284
It is appropriate, however, in a work of this nature, to notice some of the many incidents and accidents which have occurred, and of which an account has been transmitted.
Classifying these somewhat chronologically, one of the earliest recorded accidents (not previously mentioned in this work) was the one which befel the ship Union, of Nantucket, Capt. Edmund Gardner, master, which sailed from Nantucket on the 19th of September, 1807, for Brazil Banks. When twelve days out, running along at the rate of about seven miles an hour, she struck on a sperm whale with sufficient force to break two timbers on the starboard bow.285 The pumps were immediately manned, but the water came in through the break so rapidly that it became evident that the certain destruction of the ship was only being briefly postponed, and preparations were made by Captain Gardner, who was a young man and this his first voyage as commander, to leave her. The boats were lowered, and provisions, water, fireworks, books, and nautical instruments, whatever, in fact, they could safely carry, and which would be of use, were stowed away in them. By midnight -- only two brief hours after the accident -- the water was up between decks, and an immediate departure was inevitable. This was accomplished, though with much difficulty and danger, as a heavy swell was running. The crew, sixteen in number, left the ship in three boats, but the increased risk of separation led them to divide themselves between two boats and abandon the third. The course of the prevailing wind, which was northwest, and the lateness of the season, made it imperative upon them to steer, not for Newfoundland, which was perhaps the nearest, but for one of the Azores, which was the most easily accessible land.
On the morning of the 2d of October the men rigged sails for the boats, and thus not only progressed with greater speed, but relieved themselves of the fatigue of rowing. During the nights of the 2d and 3d the wind blew a gale, and during a portion of the time they were compelled to lash the boats together and let them drift. By the 4th of October they were obliged to allowance themselves to three quarts of water and sixteen cakes for the whole company for twenty-four hours. When at length they landed, on the morning of October 9, on the island of Flores, their stock of water was already exhausted. They had been at sea seven days and eight nights, and in that time had rowed and sailed nearly 600 miles.286
The accidents resulting from belligerent whales are numerous and well authenticated. At times it has happened that in their rage they have attacked even ships, apparently treating the boats as beneath their notice. Two of the most remarkable instances of this kind are the attacking and sinking of the ships Essex, of Nantucket, and Ann Alexander, of New Bedford.
The former ship, under the command of Capt. George Pollard, jr., sailed from Nantucket on the 12th of August, 1819, for the Pacific Ocean. Nothing out of the ordinary course of events occurred until the 20th of November, 1819. On the morning of that day, the ship being in latitude 0Ί 40' south, longitude 119Ί west, whales were discovered, and all three boats were lowered in pursuit, the ship being brought to the wind and lying with her maintop sail hove aback waiting the issue of the contest. The mate's boat soon struck a whale, but a blow of his tail opening a bad hole in the boat, they were obliged to cut from him, and devote their entire attention to keeping afloat. By stuffing jackets into the hole, and keeping one man constantly bailing, they were enabled to check the flow of the water and reach the ship in safety. In the mean time the captain's and second mate's boats had fastened to another whale, and the mate, heading the ship for them, set about overhauling his boat preparatory to lowering again. While doing this he observed a large sperm-whale287 break water about twenty rods from the ship. After lying there a few moments he disappeared, but immediately came up again about a ship's length off, and made directly for the vessel, going at a velocity of about three miles an hour, and the Essex advancing at about the same rate of speed. Scarcely had the mate ordered the boy at the helm to put it hard up, when the whale with a greatly accelerated speed struck the ship with his head just forward of the fore-chains. "The ship," says the mate, from whose account this is condensed, "brought up as suddenly and violently as if she had struck a rock, and trembled for a few seconds like a leaf." The whale passed under the vessel, scraping her keel as he went, came up on the leeward side of her, and lay on the surface of the water, apparently stunned, for about a moment; he then started suddenly off to leeward. Mr. Chase immediately had the pumps rigged and set going. At this time the vessel was beginning to settle at the head, and the whale, about 100 yards off, was thrashing the water violently with his tail, and opening and closing his jaws with great fury. Signals had been set for the return of the other boats, for the ship had already settled quite rapidly, and Mr. Chase had given her up as lost. "I, however," writes he, "ordered the pumps to be kept constantly going, and endeavored to collect my thoughts for the occasion. I turned to the boats, two of which we then had with the ship, with an intention of clearing them away, and getting all things ready to embark in them, if there should be no other resource left; and while my attention was thus engaged for a moment, I was aroused with the cry of a man at the hatchway, 'Here he is -- he is making for us again.' I turned around and saw him about 100 rods directly ahead of us, coming down apparently with twice his ordinary speed, and to me at that moment it appeared with tenfold fury and vengeance in his aspect." A line of foam about a rod in width, made with his tail, which he continually thrashed from side to side, marked his oncoming. Mr. Chase hoped, by putting the helm hard up, the vessel might cross the line of the whale's approach, and the second shock be avoided, and instantly gave orders to that effect; but scarcely had the course of the ship, already somewhat waterlogged probably, been changed a single point, when the head of the whale crashed into her bows, staving them completely in directly under the cat-head. The speed of the whale at this time was about six miles an hour, the Essex moving at about one-half of that rate. After the second assault the whale passed under the ship as before, and out of sight to the leeward.
Whatever was to be done now, must be done with the utmost dispatch. They were in mid ocean, more than a thousand miles from the nearest land, their ship rapidly settling beneath them, and nothing to save them but frail open boats, each of which must of necessity be heavily loaded. The lashings of the spare boat were cut, and she was carried from the quarter-deck to the waist; two quadrants, two practical navigators, and the captain's and mate's trunks had been hurriedly secured from below by the steward; and the mate had saved the two binnacle compasses. Then, as the ship fell over on her beam-ends, the boat, into which these articles had been placed, was launched. Not more than ten minutes had elapsed since the whale had first attacked the ship, and now she lay full of water, her deck scarcely above the surface of the waves, and her crew abroad on the ocean. As the captain and second mate came up in their boats, their amazement and horror on seeing the condition of their late home cannot be described. By order of Captain Pollard the masts were cut away and the decks were scuttled, and about 600 pounds of bread, some 200 gallons of water, a musket, a small canister of powder, two files, two rasps, two pounds of boat nails, and some turtle were secured. Each boat was fitted with two masts, and a flying jib and two sprit-sails constructed for each out of the lighter canvas of the ship. The boats were also strengthened and built up about 6 inches above the gunwales as an additional measure for safety. These preparations occupied the larger portion of three days. The ship was now rapidly breaking up, and the captain called a council of the officers to determine what should be done. By an observation taken at noon on the 22d of November they found they were in latitude 0Ί 13' north, longitude 120Ί west. The nearest land was the Marquesas Islands, next to them the Society Islands, but at this time the Pacific was but little explored, and these islands were presumably inhabited by savages than whom the very elements were more kind and hospitable. The final conclusion then was to make for the coast of Chili or Peru. The men were accordingly apportioned among the boats; the mate's boat being the weakest, having been stove several times and being old and patched, was assigned six, while the other two carried seven each. The record of the passage is full of melancholy interest, but too long for insertion here. It tells at length how, in spite of the utmost care, a portion of their miserable pittance of bread was damaged by the breaking of heavy seas into their boats; how their boats were damaged and leaking by the repeated blows of the water; how in the night of November the 28th Captain Pollard's boat was attacked by some kind of a fish and nearly wrecked; how thirst, consuming, raving thirst began its terrible assault; how on the 20th of December they landed on Ducie's Island;288 how, unable to find subsistence there, they again set sail, after leaving three of their number, by their own desire, on the island, and commenced, on the 27th of December, to make the perilous voyage toward the island of Juan Fernandez, distant 2,500 miles. The sad recital tells us that on the 10th of January the second mate, Matthew P. Joy, died and was buried at sea, if indeed the simple launching of his body into the deep by his feeble, saddened companions could be called a burial; that on the night of the 12th of January the boats became separated; that one and then another of the mate's crew became enfeebled and died; that the body of the second unfortunate was dismembered, the flesh cut from his bones, and served out like that of an animal to his starving, raving comrades; that when the darkness of despair had settled upon their clouded, tottering minds the welcome cry of "A sail" was given, and the poor wrecks of humanity still surviving in the mate's boat were picked up, on the 17th of February, by the English brig Indian, Capt. William Crozier, and treated with a brotherly tenderness and humanity.
The captain's and late second mate's boats kept together until the night of the 29th of January, 1820; during the interval between the separation from the mate and this time four men had died out of the two boats, and their bodies furnished their comrades with their only food. The captain's crew became at last reduced to the alternative of drawing lots to see which should be killed to furnish sustenance to the survivors. On the 23d of February, three months from the time when they left their shattered ship, Captain Pollard and Charles Ramsdale, the sole survivors of the boat's crew, were picked up by the ship Daughin[sic], of Nantucket, Capt. Zimri Coffin. The third boat was never heard from. The three men left on Ducie's Island were afterward rescued. The number surviving in the mate's boat was three.289
The fate of the Ann Alexander, Capt. John S. Deblois, which belonged to and sailed from New Bedford June 1, 1850, was not less sudden than that of the Essex, and had her crew been as far from helping hands as was that of the latter ship, not even so favorable a record as the melancholy one of Captain Pollard and his men would have been left of them, and the Ann Alexander would have been set down as one of those missing ships the fate of which will be forever unknown.
On the 20th of August Captain Deblois, having reached that whaling locality known as the "Off-shore Ground,"290 discovered whales at about 9 o'clock in the morning. The boats were immediately lowered, and by noon the mate's boat was fast to one. The whale ran a short distance, and then turning rushed at the boat, seized it in his jaws, and in an instant had smashed it to fragments no larger than a common chair. Captain Deblois immediately hastened to the rescue, and took the mate's crew into his boat, which, this being done, contained eighteen men. In the mean time, the disaster having been observed from the ship, the waist-boat was dispatched to assist. When she arrived the crews were divided; the mate taking commahd of the waist and the captain continuing with his own (or the starboard) boat, and the attack was recommenced, the mate's boat being in the advance. No sooner had the whale perceived this demonstration than he again turned upon the mate, and before anything could be done to avoid the assault the second boat had shared the fate of the first. Again Captain Deblois picked up the swimming crew, and ordered his men to pull for the ship. The situation had become exceedingly critical, for the whale still maintained his hostile demonstrations toward the now greatly overloaded boat. They had proceeded but little distance on their return when he was discovered, with jaws widely open, in hot pursuit. Situated as they were, six or seven miles from their ship, with an enraged whale in pursuit, and no rescuing boat at hand, destruction seemed inevitable, but, to their surprise and joy, the monster passed without harming them, and they soon regained their vessel. Again on board, a spare boat was sent to pick up the oars of the demolished ones, and on her return the attack was renewed upon the cetacean from the ship. As she passed him a lance was thrown into his head. This but served to still more infuriate him, and be again resumed the offensive, making for the ship. As he came near, the vessel was hauled on the wind, and the whale allowed to go past, after which Captain Deblois again advanced his ship to the attack, but when within about fifty rods of the whale it was discovered that he had settled some distance below the surface of the water. It being about sundown, the attack, so far as the sailors were concerned, was given up. Not so, however, with the whale.
Captain Deblois had been standing on the knight-heads, iron in hand, ready to strike when the ship had got near enough, the vessel moving through the water at the rate of five knots per hour. Before time enough had elapsed for him to change his position he discovered the monster rushing toward the ship at a speed of fifteen knots, and in an instant he struck her a terrible blow about two feet from the keel and just abreast of the foremast, shaking her with as much violence as though she had struck a rock, and breaking a large hole through her bottom, through which the water poured in a rushing stream. As soon as the extent of the damage was discovered by Captain Deblois, he ordered the anchors cut away and the cables got overboard, that the ship might be lightened as much as possible. One anchor and cable was cleared, but the other chain, being made fast around the foremast, was not cast off. He also hastily secured his chronometer, sextant, and charts, though the water had invaded the cabin to a depth of three feet. The boats were cleared away, and such articles of necessity as it was possible to get were put into them. The captain made another, but ineffectual, attempt to get into the cabin, and then ordered the boats to shove off, he being the last man to leave the ship, which was already on her beam-ends, with her topgallant yards under water, and being obliged to throw himself into the water and swim to the nearest boat.
When clear of the vessel, and beyond the influence that her sudden sinking would have on the surrounding water, an examination was made of their stores, which were found to consist of but three gallons of water, not a mouthful of provisions of any kind having been saved! Their boats each contained eleven men, and such was the condition of them that it required unremitting bailing to keep them afloat.
The next morning at daylight, the vessel being still above water, the captain, who alone dared venture on board, succeeded in cutting away her masts with a hatchet. This being done, she righted. The crew then went on board, and, with the aid of their whale-spades, cut away the cable which still hung around the foremast, and when that went overboard the ship sat nearly upright. Holes were now cut in the decks, in the hope of saving some provisions, but all that could be got was five gallons of vinegar and twenty pounds of bread.
It must have been with indescribably heavy hearts that these wrecked mariners set off from the so lately gallant ship that had been for many months their home, and to which they must have become attached, as every true sailor does to his vessel. On the wide waste of waters, in boats which, at their best, are but frail shells, but which now were in poor condition, and leaking, with but twelve quarts of water, and not one full day's stock of food, their situation was, indeed, appalling. The terrible alternative was forced upon them, that unless a speedy rescue could be effected, the time was near at hand when the life of one or more of their number must be sacrificed that the others might survive. With what horror must they have recalled the terrible tale of the loss of the Essex, and remembered how, one by one, her crew wasted away and died, or how, when the fearful lottery of death was drawn, a miserable wreck of a man, a merely animate mass of skin and bones, yielded up his life to prolong that of his comrades!
Happily their story was to be no further the counterpart of that of Captain Pollard and his men. Steering northerly, hoping to reach a rainy latitude, and thereby prolong with water that life which they had no food to sustain, on the 22d of August they sighted a sail, signalled it, and to their indescribable joy were seen, and soon they trod the deck of the ship Nantucket, of Nantucket, Capt. Richard C. Gibbs.291
How many instances of the destruction of ships by whales the catalogue of "missing" vessels may furnish can never be known, but it may be safely presumed that some of those ships from which widows, fatherless children, and sorrowing relatives have sought for some tidings or some memento in vain, would help to swell the list. A few brief days, and had not the crew of the Ann Alexander so providentially met a rescuer, their doom must have been sealed, and their vessel would have appeared on the marine lists simply as a "missing" ship. The landsman would glance casually at the expression, and think no more of it. The mariner and the relatives and friends of those who followed the sea would read the word with a shudder as they thought of the probable sufferings, privations, and possibly horrible, lingering death the unfortunate crew might have encountered. Those to whom the word meant far more than an empty sound would thick -- "What sighs have been wafted after that ship! What prayers have been offered up at the deserted fireside of home! How often has the mistress, the wife, the mother pored over the daily news, to catch some casual intelligence of this rover of the deep! How has expectation darkened into anxiety, anxiety into dread, -- and dread into despair! Alas, not one memento remains for love to cherish. All that shall ever be known is, that she sailed from her port and was never heard of more."
But the pugnacity of the whale is rarely directed against the ships themselves, so rarely that when the account of the loss of the Essex reached England, some of the prominent British journals scouted the tale as preposterous. Scarcely a whaleman, however, but can tell some story of the attacking of boats by these monsters, and the attacks and parryings require on the part of those having charge of the boats the utmost nerve, adroitness and precision. A few instances of this kind it may be well to briefly mention.
In October, 1832, the ship Hector, of New Bedford, Capt. John O. Morse, then ninety days from port, "raised" a whale, and lowered for him. But while the crews were proposing offensive operations, the whale himself took the initiative, and just as the harpoon struck him he struck the mate's boat, staving it badly. By drawing sails under her and bailing, the boat was kept afloat, and the attack resumed. In the mean time Captain Morse came to his assistance, and the mate warned him of the character of his antagonist, but Captain Morse told him he had a long lance and he wanted to try it. Accordingly the Captain advanced to the whale, which immediately turned, and, taking the Captain's boat in his mouth,292 held it on end and shook it in pieces in a moment. Not satisfied with this he chewed up the boat-kegs and whatever appurtenances to, or pieces of the boat came in his way. The mate now offered to pick a crew and boat, and renew the fight, to which suggestion the captain assented, and with the best and most experienced men of the crew, Mr. Norton again essayed to capture the wrecker of boats. As the mate's boat again approached, the whale again assumed the offensive, and the order was given to "stern all" for their lives. For half a mile or more the chase was continued, the crew striving, as only men in a desperate situation can strive, to keep clear of the enraged whale, which followed them so closely as several times to bring his jaws together within 6 or 8 inches of the head of the boat. By watching his chance, as the monster became exhausted and turned to spout, Mr. Norton succeeded in burying his lance in the whale's vitals, killing him almost instantly.
On cutting him in, two irons were found belonging to the ship Barclay, and it was afterward ascertained that about three months before the first mate of the Barclay had lost his life in an encounter with him. He made ninety barrels of oil. Mr. (afterward captain) Norton mentioned this as the first instance within his knowledge where a whale attacked a boat before being struck.
In 1850, Captain Cook, of the bark Parker Cook, of Provincetown, lowered two boats for a bull sperm whale. The nearest boat met him head on, and, when abreast of the hump, the boat-steerer put two irons into him. Before the boat could be brought head on, the whale broached half out of water and capsized her, the line fouling the boat-steerer's leg, almost severing it from the body. With great presence of mind he cut the line, and the other boat picked up the upset crew, and returned to the bark. But the whale was not satisfied with his victory over the boat. Like his fellow-destroyers of the Essex and Ann Alexander, he aimed at a larger prey. Making for the bark, he struck her a tremendous blow, prostrating the men on deck and burying the cutwater and stern up to the planking in his head. A second time he struck the vessel, but with much less force. In the mean time Captain Cook got his bomb-lance ready and lowered another boat. Three times, within eight yards of him, the captain fired the lance into his body, and eventually made him spout blood, though with every piercing of the lance he rushed open-mouthed at the boat, requiring the utmost skill and coolness to avoid him. One hundred and three barrels of oil was the reward of the captors, who were obliged to put into Fayal for medical advice for the boat-steerer, and to repair their damaged vessel.293
Captain Davis, in his "Nimrod of the Sea,"294 mentions two instances of fighting whales. The first was encountered by Captain Huntting, off the river De la Plata, and was, as is usually the case with these aquatic warriors, a bull sperm. "When the monster was struck," says Captain Davis, "he did not attempt to escape, but turned at once on the boat with his jaw, cut her in two, and continued thrashing the wreck until it was completely broken up. One of the loose boats picked up the swimmers and took them to the ship; the other two boats went on, and each planted two irons in the irate animal. This aroused him, and he turned his full fury on them, crushing in their bottoms with the jaw, and not leaving them while a promising mouthful held together. Twelve demoralized men were in the water, anxious observers of his majestic anger. Two men who could not swim had, in their terror, climbed on his back, and seated themselves astride forward of the hump, as perhaps the safest place from that terrible ivory-mounted war-club which he had brandished with such awful effect. At one time another man was clinging to the hump with his hands. The boat which had gone to the ship with the crew of the first stove boat now returned and took the swimmers on board.
The whale had now six harpoons in him, and to these were attached three tow-lines of 300 fathoms each. He manifested no disposition to escape, but sought to reduce still further the wreck about him. Boats, masts, and sails were entangled in his teeth; and if an oar or anything touched him, he struck madly at it with his jaw. This was entirely satisfactory to Captain Huntting, who was preparing other boats to renew the fight. At length two spare boats were rigged, and these, with the saved boat, put off again. The captain pulled on, but the whale saw the boat and tried his old trick of sweeping his jaw through the bottom of it. She was thrown out of his sweep, however, and the captain fired a bomb-lance, charged with six ounces of powder, which entered behind the fin and exploded in his vitals. Before the crew could get out of his way "he tore right through my boat like a hurricane, scattering all hands right and left." So said Captain Huntting. Now four boats were utterly lost, some twelve hundred fathoms of line, and all the gear. The remaining two boats were hastily and poorly provided, the men were gallied,295 the sun was going down, and the captain, when he was fished out, consented to give up the day and cry beat.
All hands went to work to fit other boats. Through the night, under shortened sail, the ship lay near the scene of conflict, and while the weather was calm it was possible to keep track of the whale as he occasionally beat around. But the breaking day brought rough weather, and the captain proceeded to Buenos Ayres, as much to allow his men, who were mostly green, to run away, as for the purpose of refitting, as he knew they would be useless thereafter. In this design he was not thwarted. Most of them promptly deserted, having had enough of wrestling with "the fighting whale of the La Plata."
The second instance mentioned by Captain Davis, is the more rare case of vicious pugnacity in the right whale. The name of the captain who was the chief actor in the scenes is not given, but after premising that he is not an old man, and his residence is upon Long Island, he plunges directly into the narration thus, using the language of his informant: "My second mate had fastened to a large whale that seemed disposed to be ugly; so I pulled up and fastened to her also. I went into the bow and darted my lance, but the whale rolled so that I missed the life and struck into the shoulder-blade. It pierced so deep into the bone (perhaps through it) that I could not draw it out; the whole body of the whale shivered and squirmed as though in great pain. Then, turning a little, she cut her flukes, taking the boat amidships.296 The broadside was stove in, and the boat rolled over, the crew having jumped into the sea. I cut the line in the chocks at the same moment, to save being run under with a kink. The crew were soon safely housed on the bottom of the upturned boat, or swimming and clinging to the keel. The second mate wanted to cut his line and pick us up, but I foolishly told him to hold on and kill the whale; that we were doing quite as well as could be expected. But I had bragged too soon. Just then the whale came up on the full breach, and striking the boat, he went right through it, knocking men and wreck high in the air. Next the great bulk fell over sideways, like a small avalanche, right in our midst; and spitefully cut the corners of her flukes right and left. In the surge and confusion two poor fellows went down; we saw no sign of them afterward, and the water was so dark, stained with blood, that we could not see into it.
"As the whale came feeling around with her nose, she passed close by me. I was afraid of the flukes, and got hold of the warp, or iron pole, or her small, or something, and towed a little way till she slacked speed a little. Then I dove under, so as to clear the flukes, and came up astern of them. I was in good time; for having felt the boat she turned over and threshed the spot with a number of blows in quick succession, pounding the wreck into splinters. She must have caught sight of me, for she came up on a half breach, and dropped her head on me, and drove me, half stunned, deep under water. Again I came up near the small, and again dove under the flukes. From this time she seemed to keep me in sight. Again and again -- the mate told me afterward -- she would run her head in the air and fall on my back, bruising and half drowning me as I was driven down in the water.
"Sometimes I caught hold of the line, or something attached to the mad brute, and would hold until a sweep of the flukes would take my long legs and break my hold. The second mate's boat had cut long ago, and watched her chance to pick up the surviving crew, but had not been able to reach me; for when the whale's eye caught the boat, she would dash for it so wickedly that the whole crew became demoralized, owing to the loss of the two men, and the sight, to them more terrible than to me perhaps, of the peril the captain was in. To husband my strength, I gave over swimming, and, treading water, I faced the danger, and several times by sinking avoided the blow from her head. As a desperate resource, I strove with my pointed sheath-knife to prick her nose;297 I did all a strong man was in duty bound to do to save his life. The cooper, who was ship-keeper, ran down with the ship, intending to cut between the whale and myself, but we were at too close quarters. He was afraid to run me down lest he might tear me with the ragged copper. Thus for three-quarters of an hour that whale and I were fighting; the act of breathing became labored and painful; my head and shoulders were sore from bruises, and my legs had been pounded by his flukes; but it was not until I found myself swimming with my arms alone and that my legs were hanging paralyzed, that I felt actually scared. Then it looked as if I couldn't hold out much longer; I had seen the ship close beside me, and the second mate's boat trying to get in to me, and throwing me lines, or something to float on, but I had failed to reach them. Now these things seemed very far off; that was the last I remembered until I came to on board the ship.
"I was afterwards told that the first mate, in answer to a signal from the sMp,298 had come up, and seeing me feebly paddling with my hands and not answering to his hail, he put straight into the fight. The whale saw them coming and made for them. The men sprang to their oars, and the mate had only time to seize my collar, while they pulled their best to escape from the furious whale. They thus gained time to take me into the boat, seemingly a drowned man. The mate had true pluck. Leaving me to the care of the crew on board, he put back for the whale. As be afterwards said, "She was too dangerous a cuss to run at large in that pasture-field." Watching a chance, he got a "set" on her over the shoulder-blade, and sent the red flag into the air. This tamed her; she lagged around for a time, and settled away dead. The mate then came on board and reported sunk whale;299 and I was put to bed, a mass of bruised flesh. It was several weeks before I was able to take my place in the head of my boat again."300
In the early days of Pacific whaling, not only did our sailors have to seek and encounter their gigantic antagonist amid the dangers of hidden reefs and an unexplored and unknown ocean, but frequently, when putting into some of the numerous islands for supplies, they were compelled to fight the wily and treacherous savages inhabiting some of those groups. Many a vessel had been "cut out," and not a man survived to tell the story of the massacre. How far their brother whalemen had been instrumental in thus bringing upon their heads this vengeance for real or fancied wrongs it is difficult to determine. Beyond a question the natives in some localities, disposed to be peaceable at first, had been enraged by the thoughtless, contemptible, or villainous conduct of some of their white visitors, and upon the heads of the next unguarded comers descended the blow now aimed rather at a race than at any particular set of men. Instances are not wanting of cruel, dastardly, treacherous conduct on the part of sailors towards the inhabitants of these sunny islands, and, smarting under their wrongs, their spirit of revenge made no discriminating divisions between the innocent and the guilty; the only thing cared for was the fact that they were whites.
An instance of this dangerous element in the whaleman's life occurred to the crew of the ship Awashonks, of Falmouth, Prince Coffin master. On the 5th of October, 1835, the ship touched at Namarik Island301 to recruit. The natives came on board the ship, as was usually their custom, but in no extraordinary numbers, and they manifested only the ordinary curiosity common to all these islanders in those days. At noon the captain, mate, and second mate went down to dinner, leaving the third mate, Silas Jones, in charge of the deck. Having finished, they returned, and Mr. (afterward Captain) Jones went below, coming back in about fifteen minutes. The ship's company at this time were scattered about the vessel; three of them were aloft on the lookout for whales, and one watch was below. Just after the return of Mr. Jones to the deck the attack commenced. The natives, who had, unnoticed, grouped themselves, suddenly made a rush for the whale-spades, which were in their accustomed places in the spade-rack under the spare boats. Captain Coffin was the first one to fall, being beheaded with a broad-edged spade, and almost simultaneously the man at the helm was killed. The first mate was butchered as he leaped down the fore hatch, while the second mate, who had run out on the jib-boom, was struck with some missile, and, falling, was clubbed to death by the savages. In the mean time the third mate had seized a spade, and after a struggle secured it. This he threw at a native, but, the wily savage dodging, it fastened firmly into the wood-work. Before Mr. Jones could loosen it, two natives had hold of the pole behind him. Unable to secure it, and the inequality of the conflict becoming each moment greater, Mr. Jones made a run for his life. At this time he was the only white man on deck abaft the try-works, and so closely was he beset that he was unable to escape until he reached the fore hatchway, down which he jumped. The deck was now in the possession of the natives, who proceeded to fasten down the hatches and close the companion-way so as to imprison the crew. The leader then took the wheel and headed the ship for the shore. The men who were aloft and were the horrified spectators of this butchery, feeling that their only safety lay in thwarting the plans of the savages, went as far down the rigging as they safely could and cut the braces. The yards now swinging freely the ship lost her steerage-way and slowly drifted toward open water.
During this time the third mate and the remaining survivors of the ship's company were by no means idle. Knowing that in the cabin were the ship's muskets, and realizing that it was necessary to secure them before they fell into the hands of the natives, they worked their way aft, and managed to gain possession of them unseen by their foe. From this castle they fired upon the savages wherever a mark was offered, now at the faces as they peered through the skylights, now through the cabin windows at the assembling canoes. But now a new idea occurred to the prisoners. By order of the third mate a keg of powder was got up from the run, a quantity of it was placed on the upper step of the companion-way and a train laid to the cabin. Directing his men to be ready to rush on deck the instant the explosion had taken place, regardless of him if he was injured by it, he fired the train. The crash of the timbers and the screams and yells of the wounded and terrified savages told of the success of the plot. Rushing on deck the crew speedily drove overboard those natives who had not already found refuge there, and the terrible conflict was over. From first to last the fight occupied about an hour. The captain, mate, and second mate were killed, and four men had received fearful gashes from the murderous spades; one man died a few days afterward, the rest recovered. Mr. Jones took charge of the ship and brought her home.302
One of the most fruitful sources of peril to the whaleman is the danger of his boat being taken down by the whale through the line fouling, or of being taken out of sight from the ship in his desire to hold to his whale to the last moment. Numerous cases have occurred where a boat's crew has been lost under one or the other of these circumstances, and though occasionally in the latter case they may have recovered their own ship, or have been rescued by another, the danger arising from this cause has always been formidable. Occasionally the boat gains a rescuing ship or port only after intense suffering on the part of the crew. One of the most notable instances of this kind is recounted in "The Whale and his Captors"* of Captain Hosmer and his boat's crew from the bark Janet of Westport.
While off the coast of Peru, on the 23d of June, 1849, three boats were lowered for a school of sperm whales. Each boat made fast; and Captain Hosmer soon "turned up" his. In putting about to tow him to the ship the boat was capsized, and boat-keg, lantern-keg, boat-bucket, compass, paddles, &c., were lost. She was righted and the oars lashed across her to prevent another overturn, as she was full of water, and the sea continually breaking over her. Signals of distress were set, the other boats being about a mile and a half off. Captain Hosmer saw the other boats take their whales alongside the bark, which was still heading toward his own, but to his amazement, when within about a mile, she stood off on another course and continued so until the coming on of night bid her from the anxious eyes of the horror-stricken crew. They now got up alongside the whale and tried unsuccessfully to free their boat of water. Relinquishing this hope they cut from the whale, and, rigging some pieces of the boat-sail, they steered toward the vessel's light, which at intervals became visible, but in the morning the distance had apparently not lessened. They could behold their shipmates cutting in their whales, but all efforts to attract their attention were unavailing. Again they made a futile attempt to bail the water from their boat. Finding it impossible to make their situation known to their comrades and the distance between them constantly increasing, they put about before the wind. On the second morning the wind, which from the time they lowered had blown freshly, being less strong, they threw overboard their whaling craft and a third time tried to bail their boat, but they lost one of their companions without accomplishing their purpose. Again in the afternoon they essayed, and this time they were successful, but another man was sacrificed in the attempt. For forty-eight hours they had been up to their arms in water, without a morsel of food or a drop of drink, and they were suffering painfully from thirst. Two of the survivors already were delirious. The nearest known land was Cocus Island, on the coast of Peru, a thousand miles away; not a man on board was capable of handling an oar, and their only means of propulsion was a small fragment of sail.
For Cocus Island then it was determined to head, and tearing up the ceiling of the boat they fashioned from it a sort of wooden sail.
Nothing out of the ordinary course of starvation, thirst, and a rapid decline of their energies, occurred until seven days had elapsed, during which time not a morsel of food nor a drop of water had lent them strength, nor a reviving shower fallen to aid in prolonging their existence. It was now agreed to cast the terrible lot to see which of their number should die that the rest might live, and the unfortunate man upon whom the choice fell met his fate without a murmur. Toward the close of the day a shower fell.
Being without compass or other instrument to determine their course or situation Captain Hosmer was obliged to steer as best he could with such aid as was afforded by the north star and the rolling swell of the sea from the south. On the eighth day another of their number died from exhaustion, and it was deemed necessary to steer a more northerly course in hopes to again be blessed with rain.
On the ninth day another shower fell, and this blessing was followed by the remarkable circumstance of a dolphin leaping directly into their boat. Several birds also approached so near as to be killed by the wanderers, and great relief was afforded them by these happy events.
On the 13th of July, land was seen, which proved to be Cocus Island (uninhabited),303 and this land the shattered remnant of a strong and hardy crew succeeded in reaching. They succeeded in catching a pig, and, drinking its blood, were reinvigorated. A plentiful supply of birds and fresh water aided their recuperation. On the second day after landing they were overjoyed to see a boat approach, which proved to belong to the Leonidas, Captain Swift, of New Bedford, a brother whaleman, then recruiting in Chatham Bay, and it is needless to say that all that could be done for the survivors was done.304
Revolts among the crew, occasioned sometimes by the brutality of the officers, and fully as often by a spirit of lawlessness in a very small minority of the men, and spreading from them like an infection to their shipmates, are at times met with. Two of the most notable of these, coming entirely within the latter category, are given.
Scarcely had the horrors of the loss of the Essex ceased to appal the minds of the people of Nantucket, when news of another and a more shocking calamity was brought to the island. The most diabolical, cold-blooded mutiny ever perpetrated upon the deck of any whaleship was that on board the Globe, of Nantucket, in the month of January, 1824, and this it was that thrilled the minds of the islanders and eclipsed the terrible details of the loss of the Essex.
The Globe, Thomas Worth commander, sailed from Nantucket in the latter part of December, 1822, and when she again entered that port in November, 1824, her decks were stained with the life-blood of her captain and her three mates. On the night of January 25, 1824, four of the crew, headed by Samuel B. Comstock, a boat-steerer, mutinied, and killing their superior officers, took the ship into the Mulgrave Islands, intending to destroy her. Arrived there, they proceeded to strip the vessel, and while doing so a quarrel arose among themselves, and it culminated in the death of Comstock. Soon after this, before the work of demolition had further progressed, six of the men, most of whom had taken no part in the mutiny, and simply remained quiet to avoid the fate that had overtaken the captain and mates, having been sent to guard the ship, cut the cable and escaped from the islands, arriving at Valparaiso after a long and boisterous passage. Here the vessel was taken in charge by the American consul, and the men confined pending their examination, after which they were restored to the Globe, which was put in charge of Captain King and sent to Nantucket. Ten men had been left at the Mulgraves,305 but repeated injuries to the natives on the part of Silas Payne (the second in command of the mutineers at the time of the outbreak, and the murderer of his associate conspirator, Comstock), so incensed them that one after another of the crew were slain, the innocent perishing with the guilty, until on the arrival of a United States vessel, which had been sent there to rescue the survivors, but two remained alive.306
In an account of this sad affair, published by Messrs. Lay and Hussey immediately after their rescue, is related the following incident as showing the gross brutality of Comstock, the chief of the mutineers, and the miserably slight pretexts by which they justified to themselves their diabolical plot and its carrying out. Some time previously to the mutiny Comstock, who was a boat-steerer, had desired a friendly wrestle with the third mate, Nathaniel Fisher. Mr. Fisher, being the more athletic, handled him with so much ease that Comstock, enraged at Fisher's superiority, struck him, whereupon the third mate laid him on deck several times quite severely. Comstock at the time made threats of vengeance upon Mr. Fisher, to which he paid no attention.
After murdering the captain and first mate, who were both asleep at the time of the assault, the mutineers proceeded to attack the second and third mates, who were in the cabin. Comstock had loaded two muskets, and on reaching the cabin-door he fired one of them in the direction in which he judged the officers were, shooting Fisher in the mouth. "They now," continues the account, "opened the door, and Comstock making a pass at Mr. Lumbert (the second mate), missed him, and fell into the state-room. Mr. Lumbert collared him, but he escaped from his hands. Mr. Fisher had got the gun, and actually presented the bayonet to the monster's heart, but Comstock assuring him that his life should be spared if he gave it up, he did so; when Comstock immediately ran Mr. Lumbert through the body several times. He then turned to Mr. Fisher and told him there was no hope for him! 'You have got to die,' said he, and he alluded to the wrestling affair between them, and the full force of the threats made at the time became apparent to the mind of the unfortunate second mate. Finding his cruel enemy deaf to his remonstrances and entreaties, he said, 'If there is no hope, I will at least die like a man!' and having, by order of Comstock, turned back to, said in a firm voice, 'I am ready.' Comstock then put the muzzle of the gun to his head and fired, which instantly put an end to his existence." The body of the captain was brutally mutilated, and with those of the mates was thrown overboard, the first and second officers being, in spite of their terrible wounds, still alive.
Similar in diabolical atrocity, both in the lack of provocation and in the carrying out of the plot, was the outbreak on the ship Junior, of New Bedford, in 1857. The ship sailed in July of that year on a voyage to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Christmas came, the day of hallowed associations to the natives of civilized countries, whether their place of sojourning be on the land or on the sea. The day passed tranquilly on board the ship, Captain Mellen serving to each of the crew in the evening a small glass of spirits to commemorate the return of the Christian holiday. To all outward appearance, this kindly act on the part of the captain, an act which has a specially friendly significance to the mariner, was appreciated and reciprocated in sentiment by the crew. This being accomplished, Captain Mellen retired to his cabin, and soon he and his officers were calmly slumbering in their berths, little dreaming that hands that had but just received the token of hospitality and good-feeling from them would, ere another sun had dawned, be reeking with their blood. The major portion of the crew, who also had no suspicion of the cold-blooded schemes of their comrades, also "turned in" to their berths and slept.
At about 1 o'clock in the morning of the 26th of December, the ringleader in the mutiny, Cyrus Plummer, with four of his associates, all armed with guns cocked and extra-loaded, entered the cabin, having first stationed five others outside to prevent aid reaching the officers in case they gave the alarm. With the muzzles of their guns almost touching the bodies of their victims, the conspirators, at the word from Plummer, fired. Three bullets pierced the body of the captain, who was almost instantly killed. The first mate, shot by six balls, survived, The third mate was killed with a whaling-spade or lance as he rose, wounded by the murderous muskets. Alarmed by the discharge of the fire-arms, the remainder of the crew rushed to the deck, where they were confronted by the whole force of the mutineers, those who had assaulted the officers hurrying up to aid those left on guard. In the confusion the first and second mate hid themselves from their would-be murderers. The loyal men of the crew, finding themselves completely in the power of the revolting ones, had no recourse but to submit. After the first burst of passion was over, the second mate made his appearance and his life was spared. The chief mate had secreted himself in the hold, where, in spite of the torture from his wounds, he remained for five days undiscovered, and when at last he was found, the mutineers required his services to navigate the vessel.
When within about twenty miles of the coast of Australia, Plummer and his accomplices, taking two whale-boats and rifling the ship of everything they could find of value, left the vessel and landed upon those shores, where eight of them were subsequently captured.307
With the opening of navigation in high latitudes came increased perils. Not sufficient were the dangers from their gigantic prey, or furious gales, or the losing sight of the ship; to these must be added the risk of being ground between two mighty ice-bergs, of being caught in some field of ice and forced ashore, of having the stout timbers of their vessel pierced by the glittering spear of some stray berg as it was driven by the force of the polar currents. The season in either northern sea lasts but two or three months, and the temptation to incur many risks for the sake of rapidly filling the ship is too great to be withstood. The life of the whale-hunter is a life of risks -- this only adds a little more to his repertoire of exciting scenes.
Captain Pease, of the ship Champion, of Edgartown, in a letter published in the New Bedford "Shipping List," of November 29, 1870, thus describes some of the incidents of Arctic whaling:
"We made and entered the ice on the 17th day of May, about 40 miles South of Cape Navarin, weather thick and snowing; on the 20th the weather cleared up, showing about a dozen ships in the ice. The weather having every appearance of a gale, I worked out of the ice, and soon found myself surrounded by fifty ships. Saw but one whale in the ice. On the 23d, weather pleasant, two or three ships worked a short distance in the ice; the next day the fleet commenced following, and in a few hours fifty ships were on a race to Cape Thaddeus; it was oak against ice, and like all heavy moving bodies which come in collision, 'the weakest structure always gives way;' so with the ships, they all came out more or less damaged in copper and sheathing-the Champion four days ahead to Cape Thaddeus, and in clear water.
"Unfortunately, for the first time since whaling, there were no whales, On the 13th of June, we lowered for a whale going quick into the ice, Cape Agchen bearing southwest 90 miles, and before getting the boats clear, the ice packed around us. From that time until the 26th, so close and heavy was the ice packed around us, that we found it impossible to move the ship. With our sails furled, we drifted with the ice about 12 miles per day toward Cape Agchen, the ship lying as quiet as in a dock, but on the 22d, when close under the cape, a gale set in from the southward, producing a heavy swell and causing the ship to strike heavily against the ice. We saved our rudder by hooking our blubber-books to it and heaving them well taut with hawsers to our quarters. Had the current not taken an easterly shore course, the ship must have gone on shore. The wind blowing on shore, which was distant less than half a mile, 5 to 6 fathoms of water under us, ship rolling and pounding heavily against the ice, weather so thick we could not see 50 yards, made it rather an anxious time. For 36 hours I was expecting some sharp-pointed rock would crash through her sides. On the 24th, finding only 4 1/2 fathoms water, little current, with the larger pieces of ice around, we let go an anchor and held her to a large floe of ice. Here we broke our sampson-post off in the deck. On the morning of the 25th the weather cleared up, showing our position to be at the head of a small bay about 15 miles east of Cape Agchen. Here for two days we lay becalmed and ice-bound. On the second day the ice loosened, when we took our anchor and by 18 hours' hard work succeeded in kedging about 4 miles seaward; a breeze then springing up from off shore, we spread sail and passed into clear water. We spent a short time in the straits, but saw nothing of the bowhead kind. Passed into the Arctic July --, and found most of the fleet catching walrus; about a dozen ships (this one among the number) went cruising along the northern ice for bowheads. After prospecting from Icy Cape to near Herald Island, and seeing not a whale, I returned to the walrus fleet. The first ship I saw was the Vineyard, with 175 walrus; since then I have not seen or heard from her. This walrusing is quite a new business, and ships which had engaged in it the previous season and came up prepared were very successful. While at it, we drove business as hard as the best of them, but soon became convinced that the ship's company (taken collectively) were much inferior to many others; they could not endure the cold and exposure expected of them. I have seen boats' crews that were properly rigged,, kill and strip a boatload of walrus in the same length of time another (not rigged) would be in killing one and hauling him on the ice. We took some 400, making about 230 barrels. About August 5, all the ships went in pursuit of bowheads, (most of them to Point Barrow). When off the Sea Horse Islands we saw a few whales working to the westward, just enough to detain us; we took two making 200 barrels; the weather cold, and a gale all the time. In September I worked up about 70 miles from Point Barrow; saw quite a show of small whales in the sea; took four which made about 100 barrels. As that was a fair sample, and not having the right boys to whale in that ice, where the thermometer stood only 8 above zero, I went back to the westward. Ships that had from 40 to 50 men, (clad in skins), and officers accustomed to that particular kind of whaling, did well. In going back, the fourth mate struck a whale which made about 70 barrels. From the 28th of September to the 4th of October we saw a good chance to get oil, had the weather been good and a well, hardy crew. We could not cut and whale at the same time. We took four whales which would have made 500 barrels had we had good weather to boil them. On the 4th of October we put away for the straits, in company with the Seneca, John Howland and John Wells -- a gale from northeast, and snowing. On the evening of the 7th it blew almost a hurricane; hove the ship to south of Point Hope, with main-topsail furled; lost starboard bow boat, with davits -- ship covered with ice and oil. On the 10th, entered the straits in a heavy gale; when about 8 miles south of the Diomedes, had to heave to under bare poles, blowing furiously, and the heaviest sea I ever saw; ship making bad weather of it; we had about 125 barrels of oil on deck, and all our fresh water; our blubber between decks in horse-pieces, and going from the forecastle to the mainmast every time she pitched, and impossible to stop it; ship covered with ice and oil; could only muster four men in a watch, decks flooded with water all the time; no fire to cook with or to warm by, made it the most anxious and miserable time I ever experienced in all my sea-service. During the night shipped a heavy sea, which took off bow and waist boats, davits, slide-boards, and everything attacked, staving about 20 barrels of oil. At daylight on the second day we found ourselves in 17 fathoms of water, and about 6 miles from the center cape of St. Lawrence Island. Fortunately the gale moderated a little, so that we got two close-reefed topsails and reefed courses on her, and by sundown were clear of the west end of the island. Had it not moderated as soon as it did, we should, by 10 a. m., have been shaking hands with our departed friends."
Another difficulty of North Pacific navigation is mentioned in a letter from Capt. William H. Kelley, of the bark James Allen, of New Bedford, to the Hawaiian Gazette, in 1874.308 He says:
"One of the perplexities of the navigator cruising in the Arctic Ocean is the singular effect northerly and southerly winds seem to have upon the mariner's compass. Captains have noticed this singularity for years, and no solution of the matter, as far as I have learned, has yet been arrived at. Navigators have noticed that with a north or northeast wind they can tack in eight points, while with the wind south or southwest in from fourteen to sixteen points. All navigators know that for a square-rigged vessel to lie within four points of the wind is an utter impossibility, the average with square-rigged vessels being six points. This peculiar action of the compass renders the navigation of the Arctic difficult and at times dangerous, especially in thick, foggy weather. Navigators in these regions have proved to their satisfaction that on the American coast, north and east of Point Barrow, to steer a land course by the compass and allow the variations given by the chart, 44° 15' east, with the wind at north or northeast, would run the ship ashore, steering either east or west. * * * * Experience, therefore, has obliged navigators to ignore the variations marked upon the charts, and lay the ship's course by the compass alone to make a land-course safe in thick weather. * * * * With an east or west wind the effect on the compass is not so great as with other winds. I have said this much to show the working of the compass in the Arctic Ocean during different winds, not that I admit that the wind has any effect whatever upon the compass. I give the facts as they came under my observation, and corroborative testimony will be borne by any shipmaster who has cruised in the Arctic Ocean."
Although in the earlier, and at times in the later years of Arctic whaling the yield of oil has been large, yet the extra expense of obtaining it has been a formidable element entering into the calculation on the profits of the voyage. The anchorage was found to be of that character that the ground-tackle in use in other oceans availed but little, and heavier anchors and cables had to be furnished to prevent the almost inevitable drifting upon a lee shore, which, in a heavy gale, lighter anchors and lighter cables could only postpone. Again, but few ships returned from these regions without showing heavy scars and wounds as the result of their contest with the ice, while many vessels laid their bones in these desolate seas and on the rock-bound coasts. The most memorable instance of loss from shipwreck in the Arctic is that of the season of 1871, when thirty-four vessels out of a fleet of forty-one were abandoned in the ice as hopelessly lost.
More particular stress has been laid upon the North Pacific fishery because the bulk of the Arctic whaling was carried on on the western coast, but the pursuit was carried on in Hudson's Bay309 and the surrounding seas with no less danger and with no less loss when we consider the number of vessels engaged. Scurvy, that dread of the sailor, was more to be feared in the North Atlantic than in the North Pacific Ocean.310 Vessels usually fitted for shorter voyages, and the sudden closure of the ice around them, cutting them off from all communication with the outside world, attended as it was with a distressing uncertainty as to when their imprisonment would terminate, was an event that was positively appalling. The long catalogue of whale-ships crushed by the ice, which is an accompaniment to the history of the English fishery in the Greenland seas, is ample attestation to the perils North Atlantic mariners were obliged to encounter, and ample testimony to the bravery and hardihood of those men, English, Dutch, and American, who pursued their prey amid so much of danger, privation, and suffering.311
The American Greenland sea-fishery affords but few examples of these perils, simply because the fleet in these waters was of late years very small. Vessels have sailed on their voyages to Hudson's Bay and Davis Straits and never returned, and the fate of the gallant men who composed their crews has been and must ever remain a mystery.
Mention has been made more particularly of those sources of disaster more peculiar to the business, but it must not be inferred that these are the only trials which beset the life of the whaleman. In common with, but probably not in proportion to, the merchant service, the scenes of shipwreck and suffering are alike the shadows darkening the sunshine of their lives; shipwrecks, resulting not from the nature of their avocation, but the result of gales, of fire, and of sudden calamity.
On the 4th of March, 1854, the ship Canton, of New Bedford, was wrecked on a reef in the Pacific Ocean situated in 2° 45' south latitude, and 173° west longitude. The crew gained the shore of a small barren island, and there subsisted as best they could for four weeks. During this time, in the best procurable shade, the thermometer denoted a temperature of 135° by day and 94° by night. Long existence there was out of the question, since their only source of supplies was the wreck of their vessel, and it was determined to endeavor to reach the King's Mill group of islands, some eight hundred miles distant. Having procured a very limited stock of bread and water, they started in four boats, reducing themselves to an allowance of one-half a pint of water and half a biscuit per day to each man. During the night the boats were kept together, but in the day-time they separated as widely as was prudent, to increase their chances of seeing a sail. On their perilous voyage they encountered considerable severe weather, and passed the islands where they intended to stop. When at length, after a voyage of forty-five days, they landed at Sypan (one of the Ladrones), not one of their number was able to stand. Here they caught birds and fish, and obtained cocoanuts, but no water, and they again started, this time for Tinian, distant about thirty miles. Arrived off there, the commander refused to allow them to land, thinking they were pirates. He even ordered his soldiers to fire upon them, but they finally convinced him who they were, and he supplied them with bread and water. Four days after they landed at Guam, having sailed in their boats about thirty-five hundred miles.
On the 21st October, 1851, the ship Junius, of New Bedford, was lost on a reef in Mozambique channel. The crew left the ship, unable to secure any provisions save four salt hams. All but one boat's crew landed at Saint Augustine Bay, about two hundred miles from the scene of their shipwreck, having been in their boats six days and nights without water and with no food except the hams, which to men in their situation were worse or but little better than no food. The missing ones were subsequently rescued.
The ship Logan, of New Bedford, was lost January 26, 1855, on Sandy Island Reef. A boat-steerer and three men were drowned at the time. The survivors landed at the Feejee Islands after enduring much suffering.
In 1846 the ship Lawrence, of ----, was lost off the coast of Japan, and of the entire crew only the second mate and seven men reached the shore alive. They were immediately seized by the Japanese and kept for seventeen months in the most rigorous and barbarous custody, in cages, dungeons, holds of junks, &c., and passed from port to port until they reached Nangaski. On their journey they were exposed to all sorts of ill-treatment, were threatened, insulted, and sometimes cruelly beaten. One poor fellow who endeavored to escape these brutal captors was cruelly put to death. At Nangaski the wretched remnant were compelled to go through the ceremony of trampling on the cross or a representation of it, in accordance with an edict adopted at the time of the expulsion of the Portuguese some two hundred years before.312 At the very time these atrocities were being perpetrated the squadron of Commodore Biddle lay in the harbor of Yeddo, and our Government fondly imagined that it had made a favorable impression on the people of those islands in respect to American dignity, moderation, and power.
Similar to the experience of the Lawrence was that of the Lagoda, of New Bedford, also wrecked on these, then inhospitable, islands. Those of the crew who survived the wreck were so inhumanly treated by the Japanese into whose power they were so unfortunate as to fall that one of their number in sheer despair relieved himself of further torture by taking his own life.313
Another class of accidents to which whalemen seem peculiarly liable, but which, because of the care and vigilance exercised by the officers and crew, is of rare occurrence, is destruction by fire.314 When indeed this casualty does occur, it is usually the result of some circumstance which might occur in any vessel. The case of the Cassander, of Providence, R. I., Henry Winslow commander, was one of this kind, and its narration is given, not so much in illustration of perils incidental to this pursuit, as to record the sufferings of her crew on account of that disaster.
Vessels in the merchant service have, as a general rule, a certain series of courses to steer. They usually make the shortest distance from port to port. Hence in case of accident to the vessel they are in, the crew have only to continue in their course in order to insure most speedy relief. Not so with the whaler. Her cruising ground maybe hundreds of miles from the tracks of merchantmen, and she may be a solitary cruiser on that station. Hence the destruction of the vessel involves far greater risk and possibly privation and suffering to the crew.
The Cassander sailed from Providence on the 19th of November, 1847. Nothing worthy of special mention occurred until, on the morning of the 1st of May, 1848, between 4 and 5 o'clock, the cry of fire was raised.315 The wind at the time was blowing a moderate gale from the northwest. All hands were instantly on deck, and search for the source and cause of the fire was made. It was found that it was raging most severely in the lower hold, apparently near the foremast, where four barrels of tar were known to have been stored. Simultaneously with this discovery it was found that two of the crew -- negroes from the coast of Africa -- had jumped overboard. One of them, refusing to take the rope thrown to him by Captain Winslow, soon sank, the other was subsequently picked up by the second mate's boat.316
Orders were given, and every exertion was made to save the ship, but the position of the fire, the rapidity with which it increased, and the density of the smoke, rendered all their efforts unavailing, and the means of escape became the chief consideration. Attempts were made to procure bread and water, but the smoke in the steerage was so dense that it was impossible to do so. This circumstance led to the belief that the ship had been fired at both ends. Three boats were now lowered, and in them were placed such stores as the crew could get at, the nautical instruments and some clothing, and the burning wreck was abandoned, the entire crew, save the drowned African, numbering in all 23 souls, escaping in safety.
With the dawning of the day they took an inventory of their supplies and found them to consist of about ten gallons of water, fifteen pounds of bread, and a small amount of raw meat taken from the harness-cask. By the previous day's reckoning their position was found to be in latitude 34° 30' south, longitude 45° 50' west -- 400 miles from the nearest land. The crew were immediately allowanced to one gill of water and a very small amount of bread per day. The weather was bad, and during the earlier portion of their voyage they were obliged to depend upon their oars to make progress against the head winds. Of course they soon became exhausted, and rowing had to be given up and the sails alone were used, the boats being kept as nearly as possible in the direction of land.
At about 10 o'clock on the morning of the 5th of May, the boats being then in latitude 32°, longitude 47°, a sail was discovered. All hands immediately took to the oars, and after five hours of hard rowing, signals of distress being also repeatedly made, the mate's boat came up with the vessel and found her to be a Spanish brig, 100 days from Barcelona, bound to Montevideo. The captain of the brig made every effort to get away from the shipwrecked mariners, and when the mate's boat came up would not allow it alongside, but passed the crew a rope and towed them some distance astern. When Captain Winslow's boat came up he stated to the Spaniard, through an interpreter, their condition and circumstances, and asked permission for his officers and crew to go on board, but this was peremptorily refused. Equally futile were the endeavors to get him to take them to Montevideo or St. Catharine's, or even one or two days' sail toward land. The stony-hearted man, with a refinement of cruelty entirely foreign to maritime men, paid no heed to their entreaties, nor would he even permit them the solace they could derive from one night's rest and sleep on board his vessel, that they might the better withstand the further fatigues and hardships in store for them.. Against the express wishes of this monster, Captain Winslow sprang into the main chains and aboard of the vessel, but the aid which the unfortunates wanted the Spanish captain could not be induced to give, and the crews of toil-worn, famishing, abandoned men proceeded on their voyage. Who would not say that if the sea, which proved more hospitable than man, had swallowed up these miserable men, their blood would have been on the head of Captain Dominick, of the brig Alercidita?317
The night of the 6th was the most perilous of their voyage, as the wind blew in a succession of heavy squalls. The boats were hove to by making a line fast to the oars and paying them out ahead. In this situation they lay until the dawn. From daylight until 11 o'clock they used their sails, but the wind blowing a heavy gale from a northeasterly direction they were again compelled to heave to. At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon the captain's boat was swamped, but the occupants were all rescued and divided between the other two boats. By this accident the water and the nautical instruments it contained were lost, and the two remaining boats were so loaded that their gunwales were not more than 6 or 8 inches out of water. "In this situation," says the captain, "we passed the night; nothing was heard save the awful roaring of the tempest and occasionally the voices of some of the officers and crew offering up a prayer to the Almighty Ruler of wind and wave for their safety. He heard our prayers. In the morning the wind moderated and the sea was beaten down by a heavy shower of rain." From this time they were favored with pleasant weather, and on the 10th of May they landed near Conventus, in the province of St. Catharine, in Brazil, without water and utterly exhausted. So much reduced had they become that a boat-steerer was drowned by the capsizing of the mate's boat, he being too weak to extricate himself from the surf.
It would be easy to greatly extend the mournful lists, but those enumerated are types of each class of casualties. Still another class appears, however, and with this we will pass to the consideration of other subjects.
Among the dangers encountered by our whalemen in the Pacific Ocean is the serious and insidious one of the attacks of boring-worms upon the bottoms of their ships. The least exposed place upon their planking where the copper may have become chafed off by contact with sunken rocks and reefs, without a thought of danger incurred or damage done presenting itself to the mariner, serves as a rallying point for the teredo, and soon the vicinity of the break becomes honey-combed with its habitations, and fortunate is it for the seamen if a warning leak drives them into some haven for repairs while yet the damage is reparable. This may be still another plausible solution of that terrible problem of "missing vessels." A noteworthy instance of the havoc made by these "toilers of the sea" occurred to the ship Minerva 2d, of New Bedford, Captain Swain, in 1857.
In August, 1856, while off the King's Mill group, she touched on a reef, the water being at the time perfectly smooth and but little wind blowing. So trifling was the sensation of the contact that Captain Swain gave himself no thought that any damage was sustained, and the voyage was continued as usual until February, 1857, when, in a heavy gale, the vessel was found to leak 250 strokes per hour. She reached Norfolk Island on the 19th of March, but was blown off by heavy gales which continued for three days, the leak meanwhile increasing to 1,000 strokes, and Captain Swain bore away for Sydney. On the 29th of March she was leaking 2,400 strokes (or about 16 inches) per hour, and Captain Swain had the forehold cleared to examine for the cause of the trouble. Upon cutting through the ceiling several holes were found in the bottom through which the water rushed furiously. These the men, though standing in the water up to their middles, succeeded in plugging up and covering with canvas and blankets well tarred. Over these a stream-chain was coiled to prevent the plugs from bursting in from the force of the water, and the pumps were kept going day and night. The ship reached Sydney on the 7th of April and was taken upon the marine railway. Upon examination it was found that two sheets of copper had been rubbed off (probably while off the King's Mill Islands) about six feet from the keel, and a little abaft the bluff of the bow on the starboard side. When this place was laid bare the planks were completely eaten to a shell by the worms. No person not an eye-witness, said the captain, would have believed the planks would have held together, and it was certainly wonderful that in plugging the whole plank was not driven out, in which case every soul on board must have been drowned before the boats could have been lowered.318
G. A MISCELLANEOUS CHAPTER.
While some vessels on their voyages have made but poor returns, even bringing, in numerous cases, positive and at times damaging loss to their owners, others have done extraordinarily well, and brought in fortunes to those investing in them. The ups and downs of the business made it alternately profitable and, if not positively losing, at least hazardous. This was the fact when no unusual accident occurred, but in case of a disaster it changed the beam of the balance from the speculative to the unmistakably negative side of the account. To illustrate the two phases of the owners' business experience, the following examples are given
The Wilmington and Liverpool packet, Captain Richmond, sailed from New Bedford in June, 1820, for the Pacific Ocean, returning on the 27th of December, 1823, with 2,600 barrels of sperm-oil-the largest amount procured by any one New Bedford ship to that date, and worth, at the average price of oil in 1823, about $65,000.
The ship Uncas, of Falmouth, Capt. Henry C. Bunker, sailed in 1828 and returned in 1831, having been absent two years and eight months, bringing a cargo of 3,468 barrels of sperm-oil, worth about $88,000.
The Loper, of Nantucket, Capt. Obed Starbuck, returned in September, 1830, after an absence of only fourteen months and fourteen days, with 2,280 barrels of sperm-oil, worth, at the average price of oil, $50,000. On her next voyage, under the command of John Cotton, she took 2,170 barrels of sperm-oil in less than eighteen months, and on the voyage immediately preceding that of 1829-'30, under the command of Captain Starbuck, she brought in 2,131 barrels of sperm-oil in less than seventeen months. In less than sixty-two months she had performed three Pacific Ocean voyages and landed 6,581 barrels of sperm-oil.
The ship Sarah, of Nantucket, Capt. Frederick Arthur, sailed for the Pacific Ocean on the 26th of May, 1827, returning April 19, 1830, with 3,497 barrels of sperm-oil, valued at $89,000. This is the largest quantity of sperm-oil ever brought into Nantucket from a single voyage.
In 1830 the ship America, Capt. Shubael Cottle, sailed from Hudson, N. Y., for the Pacific Ocean. She returned in 1823, after a voyage of thirty-one mouths, bringing 3,180 barrels of sperm-oil. The value of her cargo was about $80,000.
The Magnolia, of New Bedford, Capt. George B. Worth, obtained a cargo of 3,451 barrels of sperm-oil on a voyage of forty-one mouths, the value of which was $85,000.
In 1838 there arrived at New Bedford the ship William Hamilton, Capt. William Swain, with 4,060 barrels of sperm oil, having sent home from the Western Islands on her passage out 121 barrels more, making a total of 4,181 barrels, worth $109,269.
In 1842 the America, Captain Fisher, brought into New Bedford 400 barrels of sperm and 4,300 barrels of whale oil, and 45,000 pounds of bone, after a voyage of 26 months, the entire cargo being worth $66,478. In the same year the Maria, of Nantucket, Capt. Elisha H. Fisher, returned from a 22 mouths' voyage with 2,413 barrels of sperm-oil, bringing to the owners the sum of $70,000.
In 1843 the Silas Richards, of Sag Harbor, returned with 3,600 barrels of whale-oil, 220 of sperm, and 30,000 pounds of bone, having been gone 28 months. The value of her cargo was $54,722. In the same year the Bowditch, of Providence, carried into that port 3,500 barrels of whale-oil and $10,000 worth of bone, the value of which cargo was $47,485; she was gone 20 mouths. The schooner Cordelia of Provincetown, also returned in 1843 from a four days' voyage with 120 barrels of whale-oil and $100 of bone, worth $1,385
In 1845 the Lowell, Captain Benjamin, and the General Williams, Captain Holt, arrived at New London, the former having been gone 21 and the latter 22 months, each bringing about 4,500 barrels of whale-oil and 43,000 pounds of bone, each cargo being valued at about $61,400. The Lowell was said to have had alongside at one time sixteen whales.
In 1849 the South America, of Providence, Capt. R. N. Sowle, returned from a voyage of 26 months, with 5,300 barrels of whale and 200 barrels of sperm oil, and 50,000 pounds of bone, worth $69,000. As she fitted at $40,000, it will be seen that she paid her cost and a dividend of about 125 per cent. The Russell, of New Bedford, Captain Morse, also brought to her investors, in the same year, a cargo valued at $92,000, (2,650 barrels of sperm-oil.) She was absent three years and four months. The cargo of the Plymouth, of Sag Harbor, Capt. L. B. Edwards, which also returned in 1849, was worth $71,000. She brought 4,873 barrels of whale-oil, and was gone 41 months.
In 1850 the Coral, of New Bedford, Captain Seabury, returned from a three years' voyage with 3,350 barrels of sperm-oil, worth $126,630.
Probably the most extraordinary voyage ever made was that of the Envoy, of New Bedford, which sailed in 1848. She returned to Providence in 1847 from a whaling voyage, and was there condemned and sold to William C. Brownell, esq., of New Bedford, to be broken up. Mr. Brownell, however, concluded to fit her for another voyage, and did so, sending her to sea under the command of Capt. W. T. Walker.319 She sailed immediately to Wytootacke, and took on board 1,000 barrels of oil that Captain Walker had purchased from a wreck on a previous voyage at a merely nominal price,320 and stored there; thence he proceeded to Manila and shipped this oil to London. From Manila he cruised in the North Pacific Ocean, and in fifty-five days took 2,800 barrels of whale-oil. Of this he shipped to London from Manila 1,800 barrels, and also 40,000 pounds of bone. Cruising again he took 2,500 barrels of whale-oil and 35,000 pounds of bone. Captain Walker now put into San Francisco, sold 25,000 gallons of oil at $1 per gallon, and the remainder (85,000 gallons) at 51 cents per gallon, and shipped $12,500 worth of bone to New Bedford. While at San Francisco an offer of $6,000 was made for the vessel. The gross amount of oil obtained was 5,300 barrels, and of bone 75,000 pounds. Summing up, then, the entire result of the voyage, we find:
|Net profit on 1,000 barrels first shipped to London||$9,000|
|Net profit on catchings for first season||37,500|
|Sales at San Francisco||73,450|
|Value of bone shipped home||12,500|
|Value of vessel at Situ Francisco||6,000|
|The Envoy was fitted at about $8,000.|
The year after the cruise of the Superior in the Arctic, 154 ships were whaling in that sea. These vessels took during that season (1849) 206,850 barrels of right-whale oil and 2,481,600 pounds of whalebone. The value of the ships and outfits was $4,650,000, and the value of that season's catchings was $3,419,622.
In 1853 the following more than ordinarily good voyages were reported at New Bedford: Bark Favorite, of Fairhaven, Captain Pierce, gone three years, with 300 barrels of sperm and 4,300 barrels of whale oil and 72,000 pounds of bone,321 worth in the aggregate $116,000; ship Montreal, of New Bedford, Capt. Frederick Fish, absent 32 months and 15 days, with 195 barrels sperm, 3,823 barrels whale-oil, and 31,700 pounds of bone, worth $136,023.19; ship Sheffield, also of New Bedford, gone four years, with 7,000 barrels of whale-oil and 115,000 pounds of bone, worth $124,000.
The Pioneer, of New London, Capt. Ebenezer Morgan, sailed from that port June 4, 1864, for the Davis Straits and Hudson's Bay fishery, valued, with her outfits, at $35,800. On the 18th of September, 1865, she returned with 1,391 barrels of whale-oil and 22,650 pounds of bone, worth, at the current prices, $150,060.322 This voyage the people of New London claim to be the best ever made by an American whaler.
But success has not been confined to large vessels or to expensive voyages. In addition to the cruise of the Cordelia, of Provincetown, there are reported as making extraordinary voyages the following small vessels: The schooner Admiral Blake, of Sippican, Capt. B. B. Handy, in a voyage of two mouths and nine days (in 1854) took 250 barrels of sperm and 10 barrels of blackfish oil, worth, in all, $11,000. The schooner Altamaha, of the same port, Capt. Consider Fisher, sailed in 1855, was gone six months and nine days, and returned with a cargo of 240 barrels of sperm and 8 barrels of blackfish oil, valued at $13,500. She was worth, with her outfits, $2,200, and after paying off her crew and refitting for another voyage the owners divided $8,000. The schooner James, also of Sippican, Capt. B. B. Handy, sailed in 1856, and in a cruise of three months and a half obtained $10,000 of oil (220 barrels sperm.)
Occasionally some piece of good fortune, out of the ordinary course of whaling success, is met with. Thus, in September, 1857, the schooner Watchman, of Nantucket, Capt. Chas. W. Hussey, sailed for an Atlantic Ocean cruise. She returned in August, 1858, having obtained 41 barrels of sperm and 386 barrels of whale oil, and 4 barrels of ambergris.323 This last was sold for $10,000, making the entire value of the voyage $19,125.
So much for the cheering, sunny side of the picture. There is, however, a shadowy side, on which may be found heavy and disastrous losses, and financial ruin for many a merchant. Thus, of the 81 whalets expected to arrive in 1837, 53 made paying voyages, 8 made saving ones, 11 lost money, and 9 involved their owners in severe losses. A mutiny among the crew of the Clifford Wayne, of Fairhaven, necessitating her return to port, occasioned a loss of $10,000 to those who invested in her.
The brig Emeline, of New Bedford, Captain Wood, sailed from port on the 11th of July, 1841. The captain was killed by a whale in July, 1842, and in September, 1843, the brig returned, bringing home only 10 barrels of oil as the result of a 26 months' cruise.
The Benjamin Rush, of Warren, Captain Munroe, sailed in October, 1852, for the Pacific Ocean. On the coast of Japan the captain and his boat's crew were lost by a whale. This, combined with the extremely poor success that had attended the vessel, had so discouraging an effect upon the crew that it was considered useless to prolong the voyage, and she returned to port under charge of the cooper in 1853, having obtained but 50 barrels of sperm-oil and 40 of whale. On her voyage she had circumnavigated the globe, and during the entire period sighted land but twice, the Cape de Verde Islands, outward-bound, and Trinidad on the passage home.
Of the 68 whalers expected to arrive in New Bedford and Fairhaven in 1858, 44 were calculated as making losing voyages, and the same proportion would apply to other ports. The estimated loss to owners during this year was at least $1,000,000.
The net loss on 12 whaling schooners of the Provincetown fleet, which arrived in 1870, was $36,000.
These are cases taken somewhat at random. Almost every year witnessed some misfortune, saw some persons impoverished by an unsuccessful termination of the venture in which their little all was invested.
Among the pursuits which grew out of the prosecution of the spermwhale fishery was the manufacture of candles, which was at one time an important industry both home and commercial.
"The first manufactory of sperm candles in this country," says Macy,324 "was established in Rhode Island, a little previous to 1750, by Benjamin Crabb, an Englishman. His candle-house was burnt in 1750 or 1751." In 1750 the general court of Massachusetts granted to Benjamin Crabb, of Rehoboth, the sole right to make sperm candles in that colony for a term of years, on the ground that he and no other person had aa knowledge of the art and he agreeing to instruct five of the inhabitants therein.325 In 1753 Obadiah Brown built candle-works at Tockwotten, now known as India Point, in Providence, and engaged Crabb to superintend the business. Brown manufactured that year about 300 barrels of spermaceti, which was nearly all that was saved separately from the body-oil, and not sent to England. Crabb proved less capable than Brown supposed, and the secret of refining was only acquired by Brown as the result of his own experiments.
In 1754 or '55, Moses Lopez engaged in the business in a small way, at Newport, followed soon after by Collins & Reveria, Aaron Lopez, John Maunsley & Co., Thomas Robinson, and others. In 1761 there were eight manufactories in New England and one in Philadelphia. These were: in Providence, Obadiah Brown & Co., the firm consisting of Obadiah, Nicholas, Joseph, John and Moses Brown.326 In Boston,Josepb Palmer & Co., consisting of Thomas Fluekar, Nathaniel Gorham, Joseph Palmer, Richard Cranch, and William Belcher. In Newport, which monopolized by far the largest share of this pursuit, were Thomas Robinson & Co., (William, Thomas, and Joseph Robinson, and William Richardson), Riveria & Co., (Flenry Collins arid Jacob Rod Reveria), Isaac Stelle & Co., (John Marodsley,327 Isaac Stelle and John Slocum), Naphthali Hart & Co., (Naphthali, Samuel, Abraham, and Isaac Hart), Aaron Lopez and Moses Lopez. There was also, besides the Philadelphia firm, the name of which is not now accessible, one more manufactory, that of Edward Langdon & Son, which was probably located in Boston.328
In 1761 Richard Cranch & Co. endeavored to associate the manufacturers for mutual protection in regard to the purchase of "head-matter" and the sale of manufactured stock. Such was the success of the project that the union was formed and articles drawn up and signed by all the above parties save Moses Lopez and the Philadelphians. The signers formed a general association under the name of "United Company of Spermaceti Chandlers." It was agreed to give positive orders to their agents not to give for head matter more than £6 sterling per ton above the price of "common merchantable Spermaceti body brown oil," the price of the oil to be determined in all cases by the current prices paid by Boston merchants for the London market, and the members were debarred giving, either directly or indirectly, more than the above rate, or to receive any head-matter acknowledged by the seller to be preengaged. No commission exceeding 21 per cent. was to be allowed to any factor; and if the price of head-matter should continue above the agreed price of the association, the members of the company agreed to fit out at least twelve vessels for whaling, each house furnishing and owning in the fleet equally; the number of vessels was to be increased from time to time as occasion required. No house was to manufacture for any parties not belonging to the association, and new partners could only be admitted by unanimous consent. Candles were not to be sold in New England at a less price than 1s. 10 1/2d. sterling per pound, an additional shilling to be charged for each box made to contain 25 pounds.
The quantity of head-matter brought into New England was found insufficient to supply the number of factories already at work; and each member of the company was under obligation to do all in his power by fair and honorable means to prevent any increase of competition. Obadiah Brown & Co., with one or two others, were empowered to call a special meeting at Taunton if the influence of the whole company was required. Two general meetings were ordered, one for the first Tuesday in November, 1762, and the second for the first Tuesday in March, 1763. Expenses were to be apportioned pro rata, and at least one member from each firm was required to be present under a penalty of $8 for neglect to attend. The absentees were to be bound by the unanimous vote of the company's representatives, and the association could be dissolved upon evidence under the hand of one credible witness that one or more members of the copartnership had broken the agreement.
At a meeting held in Providence on the 13th of April, 1763, some slight alterations were made in the agreement. Ten pounds sterling was the price to be paid for head matter, and the members agreed to receive it only of following parties who were appointed the factors of the company: John & William Rotch, Sylvanns Hussey & Co., Folger & Gardner, Robert & Josiah Barker, Obed Hussey, Richard Mitchell, and Jonathan Burnell, of Nantucket; Benjamin Mason, of Newport; George Jackson, of Providence; and Henry Lloyd, of Boston. All such matter was, after the date of these revised articles, to be common stock, whether obtained by the company's or other vessels, and to be divided in the following proportion of parts to the hundred: Nicholas Brown & Co., 20 barrels; Joseph Palmer & Co., 14; Thomas Robinson & Co., 13; Aaron Lope::, 11; Rivera & Co., 11; Isaac Stelle & Co., 9; Naphthali Hart & Co., 9; the Philadelphians, 7;329 Edward Langdon & Son, 4; Moses Lopez, 2.329 The factors were to divide their purchases according to the above rule, and dishonorable conduct by any member in endeavoring to obtain an advantage over his fellow-partners entailed a forfeiture of the whole share.
John Slocum, Jacob Rod Rivera, Thomas Robinson, and Moses Brown were appointed to treat with the factors at Newport and Nantucket, John Brown with the one in Providence, and Joseph Palmer with the one in Boston. These gentlemen were to report to Nicholas Brown & Co., who were in turn to report to the other manufacturers.
There is no means at hand of arriving at the results of the partnership and manufacture; those enumerated were by far the principal parties engaged, though there were subsequently many others in Newport, Nantucket, and other towns with a large aggregate capital. The expense, says ",M.,"330 of a manufactory was trifling. The building was of wood, usually about 60 feet by 30 feet, one half formed with 14-feet posts and used as a work-room, the other half with 8 feet posts and used as a shed. Building and utensils cost about $1,000, and about 600 barrels of head matter would be used up each year in such a factory.331
The process of manufacture was so carefully kept a secret that it was not until 1772 that the people of Nantucket acquired sufficient knowledge to enable them to carry on the business there. In that year one of the most enterprising men of the island obtained the desired information and established a manufactory there, acquiring in the pursuit a large property. Others experimented and succeeded, and the business finally became one of very considerable importance. In 1792 ten such factories were in existence on the island.332
Probably the first candle-house in New Bedford was built very nearly cotemporaneously with that in Nantucket. According to Ricketson,333 Joseph Russell erected the first one, previously to the Revolution, near the corner of Center and Front streets, employing one Captain Chaffee, who had engaged in the manufacture of spermaceti in Lisbon, to take charge of the establishment, at the extravagant salary (for the times) of $500. This building was destroyed by the British in their raid in September, 1778.
Among the exports of the colonies, including Newfoundland, Bahama, and Bermudas, in 1770 were sperm candles to the extent, of 379,012 pounds, distributed as follows: To Great Britain, 4,865 pounds; to Ireland, 450 pounds; to the south of Europe, 14,167 pounds; to the West Indies, 351,625 pounds; and to Africa, 7,905 pounds. The total value of this branch of exports for that year was £23,688 4s. 6d., sterling.
The following table from Pitkin's Statistics334 will show the exports of sperm candles from the United States from 1791 to 1815
There are some incidents connected with this pursuit which may, perhaps, not inaptly be called the curiosities of whaling. Many of these are incorporated already in this work, and it may not be inappropriate to add a few more.
The Honolulu Commercial Advertiser in December, 1870, contained an account of a harpoon which was found in a whale captured by the ship Cornelius Howland, of New Bedford, then cruising in the North Pacific Ocean. It is the custom among whalemen to have each iron stamped with initials designating the ship to which it belongs. This is done to prevent dispute in case it is necessary to waif the whale, or in case boats from two different ships lay claim to one which has been killed. While off Point Barrow the Cornelius Howland took a large polar whale, in the blubber of which was imbedded the head of a harpoon marked "A. G.," the wound made by it having healed over. This was presumed to have belonged to the bark Ansel Gibbs, also of New Bedford. But she was known to have been pursuing the fishery in Cumberland Inlet and its vicinity for some ten or eleven years previously. The obvious inference was that this whale must have found his way from ocean to ocean by some channel unknown to navigators, and that at some seasons of the year there must be an inter-ocean communication. The Advertiser adds, "We have heard before of instances where whales have been caught at Cumberland Inlet with harpoons in them, with which they have been struck in the Arctic Ocean, but we believe this is the first authenticated instance of a whale having been caught in the Arctic Ocean with a harpoon in it from the Davis Straits side."
Quite a number of instances are on record where irons have been recovered, several years after they had been carried off by escaping whales, by parties who were in the ships to which the harpoons belonged. Thus Cheever mentions the case336 of Captain Bunker, commanding the ship Howard, of New Bedford, who struck a large whale in latitude 30° 30' north, longitude 154° east. The whale escaped, taking the iron with him. About five years after, while in the same latitude, but 14° farther west, he made fast to and succeeded in securing a noble whale. Upon cutting him up, the identical iron lost five years before proved the whale also the same.
A more singular case yet was one reported to the editors of the New Bedford Standard, in 1865, when they were shown the head of an iron thrown into a whale in the Pacific Ocean, in 1802, from a boat from the ship Lion, of Nantucket, Peter Paddack commander. In 1815, Captain Paddack, then in command of the Lady Adams, also of Nantucket, captured the same whale, and recovered his long-lost harpoon.
The Milton, of New Bedford, in 1865 or 1866 took a whale that in spouting made a shrill sound like a steam-whistle. In cutting off the head the man who put his feet into the spout-holes got one of them cut. Upon examination it was found that a harpoon blade was run transversely through the breathing-holes, and the whistling sound was caused by the action of the escaping air against its edge. The iron was marked with the name of the Central America, which performed her last voyage fifteen years before the capture of this whale by the Milton.337
The amount of oil obtained is not always in proportion to the size of the whale. The conditions of leanness or corpulence are quite as applicable to them as to land animals. Sperm whales which yield 100 barrels are considered very large, but this yield is occasionally exceeded. Captain Davis, in his "Nimrod of the Sea,"338 says: "The largest whale we took made 107 barrels. Its length was 79 feet; from the nose to the bunch of the neck 26 feet; thence to the hump 29 feet; from hump to tail 17 feet; length of tail 7 feet; breadth of tail 16 feet 6 inches; height at forehead 11 feet; width 9 feet 6 inches; girt at fin 41 feet 6 inches; at junction of tail 7 feet 9 inches; lower jaw 16 feet long and 41 inches in circumference at thick part. It had 51 teeth, the heaviest weighing 25 ounces. Blubber on back 18 inches; on side 12 to 15 inches; and belly 9 to 10 inches. The hump was 2 feet above the level. The case made 19 barrels; body 73 1/2 barrels; junk 14 1/2 barrels. Captain Sullivan, of the James Arnold, of New Bedford, off New Zealand, took in one voyage 8 whales that made over 100 barrels each, the largest yielding 137 barrels. The head of this made 52 barrels, and the case baled 27 barrels. It was 90 feet long; the flukes 18 feet in length, jaw 18 feet, case 22 feet, and the forehead 13.1 feet high. During the same season and on the same ground, Captain Vincent, ship Oneida, of New Bedford, took ten sperm-whales, which stowed 1,140 barrels. Captain Norton, ship Monka,339 of New Bedford, took on the off-shore ground a sperm-whale that stowed 145 barrels."
In 1853 it is said that the ship Harvest, of Nantucket, took a sperm whale which made 156 barrels of oil, exclusive of the jaw, which was lost by bad weather.340 In 1862 the Ocmulgee, of Edgartown, reported having taken a 130-barrel sperm whale, with a jaw measuring 28 feet in length. Captain Briggs, of the bark Wave, of New Bedford, reported that on the 2d of August, 1876, he took a sperm whale which made 162 barrels and 5 gallons of oil.341
The right whale is often taken with a much larger yield of oil, though its length of body is considerably less than that of the sperm whale. Another valuable product obtained from the right whale is the lining of the jaw, or bone.342 This, as it usually runs, will average from 8 to 10 pounds for each barrel of oil yielded. Thus, if a ship hails 3,000 barrels of right-whale oil, the probability is that she has also obtained from 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of bone. For quite a number of years the price of whalebone was so low that but few whalemen would encumber their vessels with it, the space being of much greater value to fill with oil. When brought home it was worth but about 6 cents per pound. But the price of this commodity has been greatly enhanced. So varied and important are the uses to which it is put that it is extremely sensitive to the fluctuations caused by abundance or scarcity. Thus in the latter part of July, 1876, the price quoted was $2.05 per pound. This was already high; but by the last of October news of disaster to the Arctic fleet sent the price up to $2.50, and by the 1st of December it was quoted at $3.343 "Captain Sullivan and Captain Taber, both of New Bedford," says Davis, "speak of bone of the bow-head which measured 17 feet." As whales producing such length of bone yield usually about 3,000 pounds of it, besides their proportionate supply of oil, it is apparent that one such monster is a valuable prize.
"I should like," says the author of The Nimrod of the Sea, a veteran whaleman, "to convey to the reader some idea of the dimensions of the creature from which such bone is taken. To do so is only possible by entering into the details of the various parts, with their sizes, and by comparison with objects familiar to the mind. The blubber, or blanket, of such a whale would carpet a room 22 yards long and 9 yards wide, averaging half a yard in thickness. * * * Set up a saw-log 2 feet in diameter and 20 feet in length for the ridge-pole of the room we propose to build; then raise it in the air 15 feet, and support it with pieces of timber 17 feet long, spread, say, 9 feet. This will make a room 9 feet wide at the bottom, 2 feet wide at the peak, and 20 feet long, and will convey an idea of the upper jaw, the saw-log and slanting supports representing the bone. * * * These walls of bone are clasped by the white, blubbery lips, which at the bottom are 4 feet thick, tapering to a blunt edge, where they fit into a rebate sunk in the upper jaw. The throat is 4 feet thick, and is mainly blubber, interpenetrated by fibrous, muscular flesh. The lips and throat of a 250-barrel whale should yield 60 barrels of oil, and, with the supporting jaw-bones, will weigh as much as twenty-five oxen of 1,000 pounds each. Attached to the throat by a broad base is the enormous tongue,344 the size of which can be better conceived by the fact that 25 barrels of oil have been taken from one. Such a tongue would equal in weight ten oxen. The spread of lips, as the whale plows through the fields of 'brit,'345 is about 30 feet. Sometimes in feeding the whale turns on its side, so as to lay the longer axis of the cavity of the mouth horizontally. Keeping the lower lip closed, and the upper one thrown off, and standing perpendicularly, it scoops along just under, the surface, where the 'brit' is always most densely packed. After thus sifting a track of the sea 15 feet wide and a quarter of a mile in length, the water foaming through the slatted bone, and packing the mollusks upon the hair-sieve, the whale raises the lower jaw; but still keeping the lips apart, it forces the spongy tongue into the cavity of the sieve, driving the water with great force through the spaces between the bone. Then, closing the lips, it disposes of the catch, and repeats the operation until satiated. * * * The tail of such a whale is about 25 feet broad and 6 feet deep, and is considerably more forked than that of the spermaceti. The point of juncture with the body is about 4 feet in diameter, the vertebra about 15 inches; the remainder of the small being packed with rope-like tendons from the size of a finger to that of a man's leg. The great rounded joint at the base of the skull gleams like an ivory sphere, nearly as largo round as a carriage-wheel. Through the greatest blood-vessels, more than a foot in diameter, surges, at each pulsation of a heart as large as a hogshead, a torrent of barrels of blood heated to 104°. The respiratory canal is over 12'inches in diameter, through which the rush of air is as noisy as the exhaust-pipe of a thousand-horsepower steam-engine; and when the fatal wound is given, torrents of clotted blood are sputtered into the air over the nauseated hunters. In conclusion, the right whale has an eye scarcely larger than a cow's, and an ear that would scarcely admit a knitting-needle."
The Boston News-Letter for March 18, 1736, mentions a whale that was "lately killed near Cape Cod," which would make its owners £1,500. This must be either a very remarkable whale, or an equally surprising inaccuracy, for it necessitates a yield of at least 2,500 pounds of bone, worth £800 per ton, and about 290 barrels of oil, worth £14 per ton. Now in 1730 oil was worth £7 per ton, and in 1748 £14 per ton, while about 1760 bone was worth in England £500 per ton. It would seem probable that the whale was very large, and that the price during that year must have run extraordinarily high, for the News-Letter appears to be usually careful in its statements.346
Capt. John Howland, in a whaling-sloop from New Bedford, while cruising in the Straits of Belleisle just previously to the Revolution, took two whales which produced 400 barrels of oil, one of them producing 212 barrels.
In 1861 the General Pike, of New Bedford, took a whale on the Kodiak ground which stowed down 274 barrels of oil. In 1855 the ship Adeline, of New Bedford, took a whale in the Ochotsk which produced 250 barrels; the result of that day's work was worth $5,000.
Naturally such immense creatures are possessed of strength; they likewise are endowed with speed and endurance. When struck they have been known, according to the Rev. Dr. Scoresby,347 to descend perpendicularly from 4,200 to 4,800 feet, or nearly a mile. Captain Royce, who commanded the Superior in her first voyage into the Arctic, states that be has known a whale to take out 6,300 feet of line in sounding. He does not, however, mean that the whale sounded to that depth, since the line continues to be drawn from the boat even while the whale is rising, so that two-thirds of this number of feet for the perpendicular descent would probably be making a liberal estimate. The time usually occupied by whales in sounding varies from about half an hour for the right to about an hour and a half for the sperm whale.348 A frightened whale will, according to the judgment of old whalemen, go from 10 to 12 miles an hour; indeed, when first struck they frequently rush at the rate of from 20 to 25 miles an hour for a short time. Though often killed without extraordinary difficulty, yet their tenacity of life at times is surprising. Captain Malloy, of the bark Osceola, of New Bedford, mentions an instance,349 where one of his boats struck a large spermwhale from the waist-boat. Soon after the starboard boat fastened to him and got stove; a bomb-lance was then fired into him from the waist-boat, whereupon he turned upon her and stove her, knocking the bottom completely out. The ship picked up the swimming crews, and was then steered for the whale. On seeing his new antagonist he rushed at her, striking her on the bow, knocking off the cut-water with his head, and tearing the copper and sheathing from the bow with his jaw. The ship was again put into position and run for him. As she ranged alongside two bomb and two whale lances were fired into him. A boat was then lowered and two more bomb-lances were discharged into him without effect. It was night by this time, so the boat was called aboard and arrangements were made to bold the position of the ship during the night. Occasionally the infuriated monster could be beard fighting the fragments of boats, oars, &c. "Thus through the night," continues the journal, "he held his ground, although he had two lines (600 fathoms) towing on to the harpoons, five bombs exploded in him, and other wounds from lances." The next morning the attack was renewed with bomb-lances, and thirty-one were fired into him before he was killed. Many similar anecdotes could be related.350
A most singular trait of the sperm-whale is what is termed by whalemen "settling." At times when suddenly alarmed it will sink bodily in the water with the apparent rapidity of a lump of lead; so rapidly, in fact, that the mortified boat-steerer hauls in the harpoon which he has thrown but which failed to hit the object thrown at. This sudden sinking is unaccompanied by any change in the horizontal position, or any motion of the tail or fins, and seems to be adopted as a means of securing safety when there seems to be no time to round out and sound.351
Another singular feature connected with the whale-fishery is the sudden coming and going of the objects of pursuit. According to Davis,352 their appearance and disappearance would seem somewhat periodical, as though perhaps certain phases of the moon were better than others for the prosecution of the fishery. At such times whales suddenly appear and are plenty, and this season will be followed by a period in which none will be in sight.
In 1868 there appeared in the Flag of our Union a series of sketches entitled "Leaves from the Arethusa's Log," by William H. Macy, esq., a veteran whaleman. Among them was one detailing the "raising," pursuit, and capture of a sperm-whale.353 Being a life-like description of this event as it ordinarily occurs, it is, with the author's permission, transferred to this work:
"The next morning, having the first mast-head, I was in the foretopgallant cross-trees at sunrise, thinking, of course, of the five-dollars' bounty all the way up the rigging.354 The him[sic] outline of the peak was still visible, and the topsails of the Pandora just in sight, astern, the wind still continuing moderate at west-northwest, both ships steering south by west. As I looked astern, when I first got my footing aloft I caught sight of something like a small puff of steam or white smoke, rising a little and blowing off on the water. Looking intently at the same spot, after a short interval another puff rose like the former, satisfying me, from the descriptions I had heard, that some sort of whale was there, and I instinctively shouted, 'There she blows!'
"Where away?" hailed Mr. Johnson, who was just climbing the maintopmast rigging; "O, yes, I see him! sperm whale, I believe -- hold on a bit till he blows again -- yes -- thar 'sh' blo-o-ows! large sperm whale! two points off the larboard! Blo-o-ows! headed to windward!"
"How far off?" shouted Mr. Grafton from the deck.
"Three miles! 'ere sh' blows!"
By this time the old man355 was on deck and ready for action. "Call all hands out, Mr. Grafton! Hard a starboard there! Stand by to brace round the yards. Cook! get your breakfast down as fast as you can. Keep the run of him, there, aloft! Maintop bowline, boat-steerers! Sure it's a sperm whale, eh, Mr. Johnson? Steward! give me up the glass -- I must make a cleet in the gangway for that glass soon. Muster 'em all up, Mr. Grafton, and get the lines in as fast as you can (mounting the shearpole). Sing out when we head right, Mr. Johnson! Mr. Grafton, you'll have to brace sharp up, I guess (just going over the maintop). See the Pandora, there? O, yes, I see her (half-way up the topmast-rigging). Confound him! he's heading just right to see the whale, too! ("There goes flukes!" shouted the mulatto.) Yes! yes! I see him -- just in time to see him (swinging his leg over the topmast cross-trees), a noble fan, too! a buster! Haul aboard that maintack! We must have that fellow, Mr. Johnson. Steady-y! Keep her along just full and by. We mustn't let the Pandora get him, either!"
The Arethusa bent gracefully to the breeze, as, braced sharp on the port tack, she darted through the water as though instinctively snuffing her prey. The whale was one of those patriarchal old bulls, who are often found alone, and would probably stay down more than an hour before he would be seen again. Meantime, the two ships were rapidly nearing each other; and the Pandora's lookouts were not long in discovering that "something was up," as was evinced by her setting the main royal and foretopmast studding-sail, though they could not possibly have seen the whale yet. But the whale was apparently working slowly to windward, and the Pandora coming with a flowing sheet, all of which was much in her favor. The old man remained aloft, anxiously waiting the next rising, from time to time hailing the deck to know "what time it was?" and satisfying himself that the boats were in readiness, and breakfast served out to those who wanted it. As three-quarters of an hour passed, he grew more anxious and fidgety, shifting his legs about in the cross-trees and clutching the spy-glass in his nervous grasp.
"Are you all ready, Mr. Grafton?"
"Ay, ay, sir," answered the mate from the maintop, where he had mounted to get a look at the whale when he should rise again.
"Let them hoist and swing the boats."
"Ay, ay, sir."
"I think f saw a ripple then," said the second mate, from the topsail yard directly beneath him.
" Where?" demanded the captain.
"Four points off the lee bow."
"O! no, you didn't, he won't come there. He'll rise right ahead or a little on the weather bow. I don't think he'll go to windward -- Good gracious! see that Pandora come down! She'll be right in the suds here directly! I think we've run far enough, eh, Mr. Grafton? Haul the mainsail up, then! and square the main-yard!"
Silence for a few minutes after this evolution was performed.
"He can't be far off when he comes up again. Look at the men old Worth has got aloft there, his cross-trees swarming, and every rattlin manned. Look sharp! all of ye! We must see that whale when be first breaks water. That helm eased down? Haul the foresail up! and let the jib-sheets flow a little more. It can't be possible that the whale has been up -- no, we couldn't help seeing him, some of us -- I know 'twas a sperm whale. I saw his fan; besides, there's Mr. Johnson -- best eyes in the ship. What time is it there? An hour and ten minutes that whale has been down -- a long-winded old dog! We shall have to wear around, I'm afraid we shall forge. Blo-o-ows! right ahead, not one mile off! Down, there, and lower away! Now, Mr. Grafton, work carefully -- Mr. Dunham, too; if you don't strike this rising, spread your chances well, and don't crowd each other -- but don't you let the Pandora get him!" The captain was by this time in the stern of his own boat. "All ready, Mr. Johnson? Where's Old Jeff.356 at my midship oar? O, here you are, eh? You ain't turned white yet -- lower away! Cooper! Where's Cooper?357 As soon as we are clear, wear round -- let run that davit fall! -- wear round and make a short board -- haul up your tackle, boy. Keep to windward all you can, Cooper! Pull a little off the weather bow, Mr. Grafton, and then set your sail! Haul in these gripes towing over the quarter. By thunder, there's Worth's boats all down! coming with a fair wind, too! Out oars, lads."
The Pandora had luffed to, and dropped her boats a mile to windward, and they were coming down before the breeze, wing-and-wing, with their paddles flashing in the sunlight, and their immense jibs guyed out on the bow-oar as studding-sails, promising to stand about an equal chance for the whale with ourselves. The larboard boat, to which I belonged, proved the fastest of the three, and had a little the lead. After pulling a few quiet strokes to windward, Father Grafton set his sails, and, as he gave the order to "peak the oars and take the paddles," seemed as cool and calm as when engaged in the most ordinary duty on board. There was no confusion or bustle in his boat, but, with his practiced eye fixed upon the huge spermaceti, be kept encouraging us in a low, dry tone, as he conned the steering-oar with such skill that he seemed to do it without effort.358
"Now, lads, you face round to paddle, you can all see him. I declare, he's a noble fellow -- ninety barrels under his hide if there's a drop. Bunker, do you see that fellow? he's got a back like a ten-acre lot -- paddle hard, lads, -- if you miss him, go right overboard yourself, and don't come up again -- long and strong stroke, boys, on your paddles. See that boat coming -- that's Ray, the second-mate of the Pandora -- three or four more spouts, and we'll have him -- he's ours, sure! they can't get here in time -- scratch hard, boys! don't hit your paddles on the gunwale. Stand up, Bunker, and get your jib-tack clear! Don't let them gally359 you, if they shout in that boat."
"All right!" said his boat-steerer, with his eager hand resting on the iron pole, "Never fear, sir.'
"Paddle hard, lads, a stroke or two. That's right, Bunker. Keep cool, my boy, keep cool, and make sure of him."
A wild and prolonged shout rang on the air from six sturdy pairs of lungs in the Pandora's waist-boat, as Mr. Ray, seeing that he was baffled, let fly his sheets and rounded to, a ship's length to windward. It was too late, however.
"All right," said Father Grafton, in the same dry, quiet tone, as before. "Hold your hand, Bunker. Hold your hand, boy, till you're past his hump -- another shoot, lads -- way enough, in paddles. Now, Bunker, give it to him. Down to your oars, the rest. Give him t'other one, boy! Well done! both irons to the hitches.360 Hold water, all. Bear a hand, now, and roll up that sail. Wet line, Tom! wet line! Where's your bucket?t All ready with your sail, Bunker? Let her come, then -- all right. Come aft here, now, and let me get a dig at him."
The line was spinning round the loggerhead with a whizzing noise, and a smoking heat, as the huge leviathan, stung to the quick, darted down into the depths of the ocean. Bunker threw on the second round turn to check him, and jamming the bight of the line over the stern-sheets, watched it carefully as it flew through his grasp; while the mate cleared his lance, and got ready to renew the attack. Every moment his anxiety increased as he kept turning his head, and looking at the tub of line, rapidly settling, as the whale ran it out, "I declare, I believe he'll take all my line. Blacksmith! pass along the drug!361 Check him hard, Bunker!" then, seeing the other boats near at hand, he opened his throat, and, for the first time, we learned the power of Father Grafton's lungs.
"Spring hard, Mr. Durham! I want your line! Cast off your craft, and stand by to throw your line to me! Spring hard! Do!"
The ash sticks in the waist-boat were doing their best, as the loud "Ay, ay!" was borne back o'er the water from Dunham, while the old man could be seen in the rear of the picture wildly straining every nerve to be "in at the death," and heaving desperately at the after oar, with his hat off, his hair flying loosely in the breeze, and his whole frame writhing with eager excitement. Our line was going, going; already there was but one flake in the tub, when the waist-boat ranged up on our quarter, and Fisher, with the coil gathered in his hand, whirled it over his head, making ready for a cast.362 At this instant his strain was suddenly relieved, and the line slacked up.
"Never mind!" roared Mr. Grafton. "Hold on, Fisher. All right, he's coming. Never mind your line, Mr. Dunham, he's coming up! Pull ahead and get fast! Get a lance at him if you can! Haul line, us! Face round here all of ye, and haul line! Careful, Bunker, about coiling down.363 He'll be up now, in a minute; haul lively!"
The waist-boat had shot ahead under a fresh impulse of her own, and the captain came drawing up abreast of the fast boat.
"Are you well fast, Mr. Grafton?" "Ay, ay, sir; both irons chock to the socket." "That's the talk. Got 'most all your line, hasn't he?" "Yes, sir." "Well, gather in as fast as you can. Spring bard, us! Spring! I want to grease a lance in that fish. There he is; up," he shouted, as the tortured monster broke water, showing his whole head out in his agony, and started to windward.
Fisher had bent on his craft again, and was about two ship's lengths from the whale when he rose.
"Haul quick, my lads," said the mate, "and get this stray line in. There's Mr. Dunham going on, and the old man will be with him in a minute. There he brings to!" as the whale suddenly stopped short in his mad career, and lay swashing up and down, as if rallying his strength for a fresh effort.
"There's 'stand up' in the waist-boat! There he darts! Hurrah! two boats fast. Haul lively, us, and get this line in!"
His whaleship seemed staggered by this accumulation of cold iron in his system, and lay wallowing in the trough of the waves. It was a critical moment for him; for Mr. Dunham was getting his lance on the half-cock, ready for darting, and as the whale suddenly "milled short round" to pass across the head of his boat, the young man saw his advantage, and cried, "Pull ahead! Pull ahead,364 and we'll get a'set' on him! Lay forward, Fisher! Lay forward hard, my lad! right on for his fill! Pull ahead! So, way enough -- hold water, all;" and, driven by a strong arm, the sharp lance entered his "life," its bright shank disappearing till the pole brought it up.
"Hold her so!" said the second mate. "Way enough! just hold her so till he "rises again!" as the whale hollowed his back under the sea, now crimsoned with his life-tide, and again rising, received the lance anew in his vitals; but the first "set" was enough, and the gush of clotted blood from his spiracle told how efiectually it had done its work.
"There," said Father Grafton, who had just got his line gathered in and was ready to renew the assault, "there's the red flag flying at his nose. Blacksmith, we may as well put up our lance, we sha'n't want it to-day. Well done, Mr. Dunham. Thick as tar the first lance. Hold on line, Bunker! heave on a turn!" as the whale, making a dying effort, started up to windward, passing among the Pandora's boats within easy hail.
"Give us your warp, Pitman, if you want a tow," said Bunker, in passing, to Mr. Ray's boat-steerer.
"Every dog has his day," growled Pitman in reply.
"Yes. Come aboard to-morrow; I'11 give you a scrap for luck."
The whale went in his flurry365 and turned up nearly under the stern of the Pandora, as she luffed to for her boats; but Captain Worth could not afford to lose the breeze long, and, by the time the last boat was on the cranes, his helm was up and his mizzen-topsail shivering. The old ship fell off to her former course, and, setting her royal and studding sails, left her more fortunate consort "alone in her glory?"
H. INTRODUCTORY TO RETURNS.
In making up these reports many difficulties occur.
1st. In the earlier years, in fact down to about the years 1844-'45, the reports of the amount of bone taken were only occasional. Most of that commodity was imported prior to 1840 in New London and Sag Harbor ships, its value being so low that captains of vessels from many of the other ports did not care to be encumbered with it. For this reason a large amount of bone was brought home which it is impossible to properly accredit.
2d. Oil and bone were frequently sold by vessels in foreign ports to pay for repairs, of which no account appears.
3d. Much oil and bone came home as freight which was not recorded in the shipping journals, and hence does not appear in the record. In many cases where it was recorded the return was made in the name of some shipping agent and not of the vessel. Where one man or one firm acted as agent for from two to ten ships proper credit was impossible. Again, many cases occur where two and occasional cases where even three vessels of the same name sail from the same port. Where a credit to them is made, it must be made, unless the vessel is carefully specified, according to the best judgment of the compiler.
4th. Oil is sent home in casks and bone in bundles, and in many cases is returned in that form. Now casks hold from two to eight barrels, and bundles of bone are of various sizes. The estimate in such cases has been founded on 4.1 barrels to the cask, and 90 pounds to the bundle.
Abbreviations used: A.O. or Atl., Atlantic Ocean; C.G.H., Cape of Good Hope; P. or P.0., Pacific Ocean; Brazil, B.B., or B. Banks, Brazil Banks; Woolwich, Woolwich Bay; Falk., Falkland Islands; W.I., W. Ind. or West Ind., West Indies; Peru or Chili, coast of Peru or coast of Chili; S.A. or S.At]., South Atlantic; Africa, coast of Africa; S.S. or S. Seas, South Seas; Pat., coast of Patagonia; South Coast, along the edge of the Gulf Stream; Delago, Delago Bay; W. Ilds., West. Ilds., or C. de V., Cape de Verdes or Western Islands; East coast or East shore, that part of the African coast; Shoals, Nantucket Shoals; Guinea or Japan, the coasts of those countries; N.W., Northwest coast of America; N.P., North Pacific; S.P., South Pacific; Ind., Indian Ocean; N.Z., New Zealand; Des., Desolation Islands; Cum. In., Cumberland Inlet; Hud. Bay, Hudson Bay.
STARBUCK, Alexander, editor and author, was born in Nantucket, Mass., Nov. 6, 1841, son of Frederick Gayer and Chloe (Hatch) Starbuck, and a descendant of Edward Starbuck, who emigrated from Derbyshire, England, to Dover, N. H., about 1635 and was one of the original settlers of Nantucket Island. From Edward Starbuck the line is through his son Nathaniel, and his wife Mary Coffin; their son Jethro and his wife Dorcas Gayer; their son Thomas and his wife Rachel Allen; their son Silvanus and his wife Mary Howes, and their son David and his wife Phebe Cartwright, the grandparents of Alexander Starbuck.
After a public school education he became a clerk in a Nantucket store and in 1859 entered the employ of Andrew Warren, a watch-maker and jeweler at Waltham, Mass., with whom he was in partnership for thirteen years. During 1877-83 he was employed in the factory of the American Watch Co., Waltham, and later in the office of the American Watch Tool Co., Waltham. While engaged in the watch-making trade his natural aptitude for newspaper work found expression in numerous contributions to Waltham and Nantucket newspapers and in 1885 he became editor of the "Waltham Free Press," a weekly newspaper, which was converted into a daily in 1888. In 1897 it was consolidated with the "Waltham Tribune" as the "Daily Free Press-Tribune," of which he was editor until 1922, when he retired. Thereafter he served as a director of the Waltham Publishing Co., publishers of the "Daily Free Press-Tribune" and the "News-Tribune," until his death. While he had a long and successful career in the newspaper field, it was as a historian that he attained the greatest distinction. He was the author of "History of the American Whale Fishery" (1878); the Waltham section of Drake's "History of Middlesex County" (1880); "A Century of Free Masonry in Nantucket" (1903); "A History of Monitor Lodge, A.F. and A.M., of Waltham" (1921); and "History of Nantucket" (1925). He was not only a writer of history but was keenly interested in encouraging the study of historical works and in the preservation of historical records and places. He was one of the founders of the Waltham Historical Society and its first president, serving for three years; was president of the Nantucket Historical Association during 1903-22, and thereafter president emeritus; member of the Watertown (Mass.) Historical Society and the New England Historic-Genealogical Society, and corresponding member of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. While president of the Nantucket Historical Association, he was instrumental in effecting the erection of its concrete fire-proof building and the purchase by the society of the Friends' Meeting House and the Jethro Coffin House, built in 1686, the oldest house on Nantucket Island. He was alderman of Waltham for three years, a member of the sesqui-centennial committee of Waltham in 1888, president and recording secretary of the Suburban Press Association of New England, and president of the Massachusetts Press Association, and was prominent in Masonry. He attended the Universalist church. He was a man of untiring perseverance and energy, entertained the highest ideals of public duty and private virtue, and, as an editor, wrote with courage and conviction strongly influencing the course of public opinion in his community. He was married June 13, 1867, to Ella Maria, daughter of Jonathan L. Warren, a Waltham merchant, and they had two sons: Walter Fisher and George Franklin Starbuck. He died in Waltham, Mass., May 6, 1925.
* This article, which may be protected by copyright, has been reproduced from: The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (New York: James T. White & Company, 1929), Vol. 20, pp.249-250. The photograph appears in facing page 249 in this source.
About the Transcription
Footnotes in the original publication, which appeared at the bottom of each page and were signified by various typographical symbols, have been removed to a separate notes section and have been numbered consectively.
Tabular material from the original are presented somewhat differently in the transcription due to the capabilities/limitations of HTML.
In the orignal publication the Table of Contents appeared following secion "M". Here it has been placed at the beginning of the work.
Section "I" -- "Returns of Whaling-Vessels, Sailing from American Ports, Since the Year 1715" does not appear in this transcription.
The tabular material in sections "J" through "M" will be added at a later date.
The two indexes -- "Index to Voyages by Vessels' Names" and "General Index" are not included.
|Author:||Starbuck, Alexander, 1841-1925|
|Title:||History of the American whale fishery from its earliest inception to the year 1876.|
|Publisher:||Washington, Government Printing Office, 1878.|
|Description:||779 p. vi plates, 24 cm.|
|Seriess:||Serial Set 1666: The Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States for the First Session of the Forty-fourth Congress. Volume 2. Mis. Doc. No. 107.|
|Notes:||Issued as: United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries. Part IV. Report of the Commissioner for 1875-1876. Appendix A. Sea Fisheries. (The American Whale Fisheries).|
|Author:||Starbuck, Alexander, 1841-1925|
|Title:||History of the American whale fishery from its earliest inception to the year 1876.|
|Publisher:||Waltham, Mass, The author, 1878.|
|Description:||768 p. vi plates, 24 cm.|
|Author:||Starbuck, Alexander, 1841-1925|
|Title:||History of the American whale fishery, from its earliest inception to the year 1876. With a new pref. by Stuart C. Sherman.|
|Publisher:||New York, Argosy-Antiquarian, 1964.|
|Description:||2 v. (vii, 779 p.) illus., port. 24 cm.|
|Notes:||"First published in part IV of the report of the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries, Washington, 1878, also issued privately by the author, 1878."|
|Author:||Starbuck, Alexander, 1841-1925|
|Title:||History of the American whale fishery, from its earliest inception to the year 1876.|
|Publisher:||New York, Castle Books, 1989.|
|Description:||779 p. vi plates, 24 cm.|
|Notes:||"First published in part IV of the report of the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries, Washington, 1878, also issued privately by the author, 1878."|