Redburn: His First Voyage, Being the Sailor-Boy, Confessions and Reminiscences of the Son-of-a-Gentleman, In the Merchant Service
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Wellington Redburn is a fifteen-year-old from the state of New York, with only one dream - to run away to sea. However, when he does fulfil this long-held fantasy, he quickly finds that reality as a cabin boy is far harsher than he ever imagined. Mocked by the crew on board the Highlander for his weakness and bullied by the vicious and merciless sailor Jackson, Wellington must struggle to endure the long journey from New York to Liverpool. But when he does reach England, he is equally horrified by what he finds there: poverty, desperation and moral corruption. Inspired by Melville's own youthful experiences on board a cargo boat, this is a compelling tale of innocence transformed, through bitter experience, into disillusionment. A fascinating sea journal and coming-of-age tale, Redburn provides a unique insight into the mind of one of America's greatest novelists.
to dance as well as they could to my little Italian’s organ. It was the most accommodating organ in the world; for it could play any tune that was called for; Carlo pulling in and out the ivory knobs at one side, and so manufacturing melody at pleasure. True, some censorious gentlemen cabin-passengers protested, that such or such an air, was not precisely according to Handel or Mozart; and some ladies, whom I overheard talking about throwing their nosegays to Malibran at Covent Garden, assured
to the seaport, but though I sought him all over, no tidings whatever could be heard. To relieve my anxiety, Goodwell endeavored to assure me, that Harry must indeed have departed on a whaling voyage. But remembering his bitter experience on board of the Highlander, and more than all, his nervousness about going aloft, it seemed next to impossible. At last I was forced to give him up. * Years after this, I found myself a sailor in the Pacific, on board of a whaler. One day at sea, we spoke
jobs, which I have done for money – being forced to it, as other men are to sawing wood. And while I have felt obliged to refrain from writing the kind of book I would wish to; yet, in writing these two books, I have not repressed myself much – so far as they are concerned; but have spoken pretty much as I feel. – Being books, then, written in this way, my only desire for their “success” (as it is called) springs from my pocket, & not from my heart. So far as 1 am individually concerned, &
am, in my slouched black hat, like the ‘bull that could pull’, announcing the decease of the lamented Cock-Robin. A better device than the bell, however, was once pitched upon by an ingenious sea-captain, of whom I have heard. He had a litter of young porkers on board; and while sailing through the fog, he stationed men at both ends of the pen with long poles, wherewith they incessantly stirred up and irritated the porkers, who split the air with their squeals; and no doubt saved the ship, as
there, below! Tumble up, my lively hearties; steamboat alongside waiting for your trunks : bear a hand, bear a hand with your knee-buckles, my sweet and pleasant fellows! fine shower-bath here on deck. Hurrah, hurrah! your ice-cream is getting cold!’ Whereupon some of the old croakers who were getting into their trowsers would reply with – ‘Oh, stop your gabble, will you? don’t be in such a hurry, now. You feel sweet, don’t you?’ with other exclamations, some of which were full of fury. And it