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A number of publications have appeared, first and last, concerning the author and his career, as was naturally to have been expected. The Alabama was the first steamship in the history of the world -- the defective little Sumterexcepted -- that was let loose against the commerce of a great commercial people. The destruction which she caused was enormous. She not only alarmed the enemy, but she alarmed all the other nations of the earth which had commerce afloat, as they could not be sure that a similar scourge, at some future time, might not be let loose against themselves. The Alabama, in consequence, became famous. It was the fame of steam. As a matter of course, she attracted the attention of the book-makers -- those cormorants ever on the lookout for a "speculation." A number of ambitious literateurs entered the seductive field. But it was easier, as they soon found, to enter the field than to explore it, and these penny-a-liners all made miserable failures, -- not even excepting the London house of Saunders, Otley & Co., to whom the author was induced to loan his journals, in the hope that something worthy of his career might be produced. To those who have chanced to see the "Log of the Sumter and Alabama," produced by that house, it will be unnecessary to say that the author had no hand in its preparation. He did not write a line for it, nor had he any interest whatever in the sale of it, as the loan of his journals had been entirely gratuitous. So far as his own career was concerned, the author would gladly have devolved the labor of the historian on other shoulders, if this had been possible. But it did not seem to be possible, after the experiments that had been made. With all the facilities afforded the London house referred to, a meagre and barren record was the result. The cause is sufficiently obvious. The cruise of a ship is a biography. The ship becomes a personification. She not only "Walks the waters like a thing of life," but she speaks in moving accents to those capable of interpreting her. But her interpreter must be a seaman, and not a landsman. He must not only be a seaman, he must have made the identical cruise which he undertakes to describe. It will be seen, hence, that the career of the author was a sealed book to all but himself. A landsman could not even interpret his journals, written frequently in the hieroglyphics of the sea. A line, or a bare mark made by himself, which to other eyes would be meaningless would for him be fraught with the inspiration of whole pages.

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  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Disabled
  • Print Length: 615 Pages
  • File Size: 2,908 KB

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