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THE ADVENTURES AND RAMBLINGS OF A SAILOR, WRITTEN BY HIMSELF [manuscript caption title]
[Bridgeport, Ct. ca. 1840].. 213pp., written on rectos only; approximately 70,000 words. Folio. Moderate wear with some loss to first few leaves. Minor soiling. Written in a clear and very legible hand. Good plus. In a half morocco and cloth slipcase, spine gilt. A lively and entertaining account of the times and exploits of Reuben Nichols, who went to sea as a merchant sailor in 1811 at the tender age of seventeen, on the eve of the War of 1812. His narrative describes many encounters with other trading ships, with pirates and privateers, and tells of the sentencing of mutineers and deserters to death or brutal punishment under the whip's lash. Nichols lived through numerous skirmishes with British cruisers. After one such engagement he and his shipmates were impressed into service and taken to England, where he met John Quincy Adams, then minister to the Court of St. James. With Adams' help, Nichols set sail on an English ship bound for St. Petersburg. Among the many ports of call he encounters over the course of the narrative are Norway, Malta, Turkey, Greece, Smyrna, Seville, Cadiz, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Aruba, Brazil, Haiti, Grenada, among others. At a number of these destinations he had chance to observe and record the customs of the native inhabitants, as well as his own unusual and entertaining exploits. In Spain, for example, he notes a visit to abandoned torture chambers in monasteries. The narrative continues up to about 1840, at which point Nichols tired of the hardships of a seafaring life. Among the many interesting moments in the memoir is the author's 1837 rescue in New York City of John Hopper, who was to be tarred and feathered by an angry mob who believed him to be an abolitionist. In this effort, he was partly aided by the mayor of New York, Aaron Clark. A separate memoir by Hopper confirms Nichols' actions. The memoir references a number of important historic events, such as Napoleon's return to France in 1815; the Battle of Waterloo; the election of James Monroe as fifth president of the United States; the outbreak of a yellow fever epidemic in Charleston, South Carolina; and a defeat in battle of the revolutionary forces of Henri Christophe (later king of Haiti) in Haiti. Born near Bridgeport, Connecticut, the author returned there after his adventurous and exotic life at sea. Upon settling in Bridgeport, he involved himself in local politics and pursued a career in shipbuilding. An entertaining and interesting account of one man's life abroad.
      [Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana]
Last Found On: 2013-07-26           Check availability:      Biblio    

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