A Mariner's Sketches, Originally Published in the Manufacturers and Farmers Journal, Providence

A Mariner's Sketches, Originally Published in the Manufacturers and Farmers Journal, Providence

Nathaniel Ames

Providence : Cory, Marshall & Hammond, 1830


[19th Century American Nautical] Rebacked with modern brown cloth over original boards. 312 pages. Errata bound in. A few occasional stains. 

Nathaniel "Ames (1805-1835) was son of the Federalist statesman Fisher Ames and grandson of a famous colonial almanac publisher. Ames was a blueblood who went to sea and later wrote about it. In this way he served as a literary forerunner of Richard Henry Dana Jr., Herman Melville and others. Like Dana, Ames went from Harvard University to the forecastle; he wrote humorously of how he preferred the "seminary" of a man-of-war to Harvard and how his status as a self-sufficient able seaman was superior to the occupation of authorship. As had Melville in his early novels, Ames combined a genteel, picaresque style with trenchant analyses of foreign missionaries and the inhumane treatment of sailors. He is best known for his nonfiction A Mariner’s Sketches (1830) and Nautical Reminiscences (1832), which recount his experiences in naval and merchant vessels across the globe. Written in a casual, almost offhand manner but with an eye toward startling and realistic detail, these works were among the first to depict the everyday rhythms of a sailor's existence, its tedium, and its danger. Ames notes in passing, for instance, how a man swimming between vessels is consumed by sharks. His descriptions of landscape and harbor often attain a pictorial eloquence. Impatient with romantic renderings of sea life, Ames was a particularly bitter critic of James Fenimore Cooper's early sea novels. In A Mariner's Sketches he claims to have read Cooper's The Pilot (1823) out loud to the crew of a naval vessel and records their disgust with it. In Nautical Reminiscences, he ridicules the "nonsensical gibberish" spoken by Cooper's sailors but claims nothing better can be expected from an author who "came in at the cabin windows." - Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program, 2019.

  • Product Code: 2003200033
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  • $400.00
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Tags: Nautical, First Edition