VOYAGES by Alfred T. Hill


Age Range: 1816 - 76
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Published ""in cooperation"" with New York's South Street Seaport Museum, this dry, somewhat disjointed account of the experiences of several seamen, Hill's Maine-based ancestors, contrasts dramatically with the rousing narratives of Conrad, Melville, and Dana. ""In a total collection of 250 journals, diaries, letters, and logbooks extending over a period of sixty years there is not even a hint of liquor, gambling, sex, or cruelty"" on the quarterdeck. Their letters confirm that life at sea for these devoted family men was lonely and boring, and although Hill has deleted the more repetitious features--passages about weather conditions and limited menus--the doldrums were ubiquitous: ""This going to sea is not a pleasure business. Six months' banishment from the world."" Still, from the references to anti-bilious pills, brain fever, and storms at sea, the tales of deaths and desertions, and the occasional reflections on slavery (""a great evil), or ports of call (New Orleans was ""a perfect Sodom""), one gets a feeling of the period (1816-76) and the perceptions of rather ordinary men.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1977
Publisher: McKay