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    Chapter 17

    Revival of Religion — Baptism — Join the Church — Temperance Society — Cold-Water Army — Another Voyage — Rules for the Voyage — Temperance Voyage — Altar of Prayer on Shipboard — Semi-Weekly Paper at Sea — Sunday Worship — Arrival in South America — Paraiba — Bahia — Privateer — St. Catherine’s.

    DURING the spring of the year 1827 we were blessed with a revival of religion at Fairhaven, especially in the Christian Church. At this season my mind was more or less exercised in regard to uniting with some denomination of Christians. My companion had been a member of the Christian Church several years previous to our marriage. By attending with her, after our marriage, when I was at home, I had become acquainted somewhat with their views of the Bible. They took the Scriptures for their only rule of faith and practice, renouncing all creeds.LELJB 209.2

    My parents were members of long standing in the Congregational Church, with all of their converted children thus far, and anxiously hoped that we would also unite with them. But they embraced some points in their faith which I could not understand. I will name two only: their mode of baptism, and the doctrine of the trinity. My father, who had been a deacon of long standing with them, labored to convince me that they were right in points of doctine. I informed him that my mind was troubled in relation to baptism. Said he, “I had you baptized when an infant.” I answered that that might all be according to his faith; but the Bible taught that we must first believe, and then be baptized (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21), but I was not capable of believing when I was an infant. Respecting the trinity, I concluded that it was an impossibility for me to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God, the Father, one and the same being. I said to my father, “If you can convince me that we are one in this sense, that you are my father, and I your son; and also that I am your father, and you my son, then I can believe in the trinity.”LELJB 210.1

    Our trial in this matter led me to make my duty a special subject of prayer, particularly in relation to baptism; after which, in opening the Bible, my eyes rested on the twenty-seventh psalm. When I had finished the last verse, I said, “Lord, I will! If I wait on thee according to thy word, I must be immersed-buried with Christ in baptism.” Colossians 2:12. God strengthened my heart and set me free from that moment, and my duty was perfectly clear. His promise was sweet and powerful. In a few days I was immersed and joined the Christian Church.LELJB 210.2

    The same day, while we were changing our clothes, I solicited Eld. M., who baptized me, to assist me in raising a temperance society. As my mind was now free with respect to this last duty, I was forcibly impressed with the importance of uniting my energies with others, to check, if possible, the increasing ravages of intemperance. Since I had ceased to use intoxicating drinks, I was constrained to look upon it as one of the most important steps that I had ever taken. Hence, I ardently desired the same blessing for those around me. Eld. M. was the first person whom I asked to aid me in this enterprise; failing with him, I moved out alone, and presented my paper for subscribers. Eld. G., the Congregational minister, his two deacons, and a few of the principal men of the place, cheerfully and readily subscribed their names, twelve or thirteen in number, and forthwith a meeting was called, and the “Fairhaven Temperance Society” was organized.LELJB 211.1

    The majority of our little number had been sea-captains, and had seen much of the debasing influence exerted by ardent spirits among its users, abroad and at home. They seemed the more ready, therefore, to give their names and influence to check this monster vice. Eld. G. exclaimed, “Why, Capt. Bates, this is just what I have been wanting to see!” The meeting was organized by choosing Capt. Stephen Merihew president, and Mr. Charles Drew secretary. Pending the discussion in adopting the constitution, it was voted that we pledge ourselves to abstain from the use of ardent spirits as a beverage. Having no precedent before us, it was voted that rum, gin, brandy, and whisky were ardent spirits. Wine, beer, and cider were so freely used as a beverage that the majority of our members were then unwilling to have them in the list. Some doubts arose with the minority whether we should be able to sustain the spirit of our constitution without abstaining from all intoxicating beverages. One of our members, who had always been noted for doing much for his visiting friends, said, “Mr. President, what shall I do when my friends come to visit me from Boston?” “Do as I do, Capt. S.,” said another; “I have not offered my friends any liquor to drink in my house these ten years.” “Oh, you are mistaken,” said the president, “it is twenty!” This doubtless was said because the man had ceased to follow the fashion of treating his friends with liquor before others were ready to join with him.LELJB 211.2

    Inquiry was then made whether there were any temperance societies then known. A statement was made that certain individuals in Boston had recently agreed together that instead of purchasing their liquor in small quantities at the stores, they would get it by the keg, and drink it in their own houses. This association was called the “Keg Society.” If any temperance societies had ever been organized previous to the one at Fairhaven, we were unacquainted with the fact. A short time after our organization, one of our number was reported to have violated his pledge. This he denied. “But you were intoxicated,” said we. He declared that he had not drank anything but cider, and that was allowed. (We were told that his wife said she would a great deal rather he would drink brandy, for when he got drunk on cider he was as ugly again.) During the trial of this member, he continued to declare that he had not violated the letter of the constitution. But it was evident to the society that he had violated the intent and spirit of it, which he was unwilling to admit, nor would he even promise to reform. He was therefore expelled.LELJB 212.1

    The society here saw the necessity of amending the constitution by striking out the words, “ardent spirits,” and inserting in their place, “all intoxicating drinks,” or something else that would sustain and aid the cause. From this a reform was introduced, which finally resulted in the disuse of all intoxicating drinks, except for medicinal purposes. This reform gave us the name of “Teetotalers.”LELJB 213.1

    Before this, our temperance society had become exceedingly popular. Our meeting-houses in their turn were crowded with all classes to hear lectures on the subject; and converts, both male and female, by scores cheerfully pledged themselves to the temperance constitution. Many of the citizens of New Bedford who came to hear also united with us. From thence a society was organized in their town and other ones also. Arrangements were soon made, and a Bristol County Temperance Society was organized, and the Massachusetts State Temperance Society soon followed. Temperance papers, tracts, and lecturers multiplied throughout the land, and opposition began to rage like the rolling sea, causing the tide of temperance to ebb awhile. Then came the “Cold Water Army,” of little children from four years and onward, commingling their simple little songs in praise of water-pure, cold water-no beverage like unmingled, cold water. Their simple, stirring appeals, especially when assembled in their society meetings, seemed to give a new impetus to the cause, and re-arouse their parents to the work of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks. As I examined my papers the other day, I saw the book containing the names of nearly three hundred children who had belonged to our Cold Water Army at Fairhaven.LELJB 213.2

    In the midst of our temperance labors, my brother F. arrived from South America in the Empress. She was soon loaded again with an assorted cargo under my command, and cleared for South America. We sailed from New Bedford on the morning of Aug. 9, 1827. I found it much more trying to part with my family and friends this time than ever before.LELJB 214.1

    Our pilot now left us with a strong breeze wafting us out once more into the boisterous ocean for a long voyage. As usual, our anchors were now stowed away, and everything was secured in case we should be overtaken by a storm. As the night set in, on taking our departure from Gay Head Light, distant about fifteen miles, all hands were called aft on the quarter-deck. All but one were strangers to me, as they had come from Boston the day before. I read our names and agreement to perform this voyage, from the shipping papers, and requested their attention while I stated the rules and regulations which I wished to be observed during our voyage.LELJB 214.2

    I spoke to them of the importance of cultivating kind feelings toward each other while we were alone on the ocean, during our contemplated voyage. I stated that I had frequently seen bitter feelings and continued hatred arise on shipboard by not calling the men by their proper names. Said I, “Here is the name of William Jones; now let it be remembered while we are performing this voyage that we all call his name William. Here is John Robinson; call him John. Here is James Stubbs; call him James. We shall not allow any Bills, or Jacks, or Jims, to be called here.” In like manner I read all their names, with those of the first and second mates, and requested them always to address one another in a respectful manner, and to call themselves by their proper names; and if the officers addressed them otherwise, I wished it reported to me.LELJB 215.1

    Another rule was, that I should allow no swearing during the voyage. Said William Dunn, “I have always had that privilege, sir.” “Well,” said I, “you cannot have it here,” and quoted the third commandment, and was endeavoring to show how wicked it was to swear, when he said, “I can’t help it, sir!” I replied, “Then I will help you to help it.” He began to reason about it, and said, “When I am called up in the night to reef topsails in bad weather, and things don’t go right, I swear before I think of it.” Said I to him, “If you do so here, I will tell you what I will do with you; I will call you down and send you below, and let your shipmates do your duty for you.” Dunn saw that such a course would disgrace him, and he said, “I will try, sir.”LELJB 215.2

    Another rule was, that we should allow no washing nor mending clothes on Sundays. I said to the crew, “I have a good assortment of books and papers which you may have access to every Sunday. I shall also endeavor to instruct you, that we may keep that day holy unto the Lord. You shall have every Saturday afternoon to wash and mend your clothes, both at sea and in harbor, and I shall expect you to appear every Sunday morning with clean clothes. When we arrive in port you may have the same Saturday afternoon in your turn to go on shore and see the place, and get what you wish, if you return on board at night sober; for we shall observe the Sabbath on board in port, and not grant any liberty on shore Sunday.”LELJB 216.1

    At this, Dunn remarked again, “That’s the sailor’s privilege, and I have always had the liberty of going on shore Sundays, and”—“I know that very well,” said I, interrupting him, “but I cannot give you that liberty,” and endeavored to show the crew how wrong it was to violate God’s holy day, and how much better they would enjoy themselves in reading and improving their minds than in joining all the wickedness that sailors were in the habit of in foreign ports on that day.LELJB 216.2

    “Another thing I want to tell you is, that we have no liquor, or intoxicating drinks, on board.” “I am glad of that!” said John R. Perhaps this was the first voyage he had ever sailed without it. Said I, “We have one junk-bottle of brandy, and one also of gin, in the medicine chest; this I shall administer to you like the other medicine when I think you need it. This is all the liquor we have on board, and all that I intend shall be on board this vessel during our voyage; and I here strictly forbid any of you bringing anything of the kind on board when you have liberty to go on shore in foreign ports. And I would that I could persuade you never to drink it when on shore. When you are called to do duty during your watch below, we shall expect you to come up readily and cheerfully, and you shall retire again as soon as the work is performed, and also have your forenoon watch below. If you adhere to these rules, and behave yourselves like men, you shall be kindly treated, and our voyage will prove a pleasant one.” I then knelt down and commended ourselves to the great God, whose tender mercies are over all the works of his hands, to protect and guide us on our way over the ocean to our destined port.LELJB 216.3

    The next morning, all but the man at the helm were invited into the cabin to join with us in our morning prayer. We told them that this would be our practice morning and evening, and we should be pleased to have them all with us, that we might pray with and for them. Also, to further encourage the crew to read and inform their minds, we proposed to issue a paper twice a week, namely, Tuesday and Friday mornings, during the voyage. Before sailing, I had prepared a stock of books, with the latest newspapers, also the last volume of an interesting religious weekly paper, published in Boston, called Zion’s Herald. We began our issue with the first number of the volume, requiring the return of the last number before issuing the next; this we placed under the volume, to be given out again at the end of six months.LELJB 217.1

    The novel idea of a semi-weekly paper at sea interested the crew very much, and when the first number came forth again, and they began to reread the volume, I heard nothing said with regard to ever having seen it before. Their interest in the paper continued throughout the entire voyage. During their forenoon watch below, I used frequently to walk forward, unobserved, and listen to hear some one of them reading aloud from their morning paper, and their remarks thereon.LELJB 218.1

    On Sundays, when the weather was suitable, we had religious worship on the quarter-deck, otherwise in the cabin, when we generally read some good, selected sermon, and from the Bible. When in port we could not have their whole attention on Sunday, as when at sea. It sometimes seemed hard for them to be deprived of the privilege of going ashore with other ship companies that were passing us for that purpose. But we enjoyed peace and quietness, while they were rioting in folly and drunkenness. After a few weeks it was truly gratifying to see them selecting their books from our little library on Sunday morning, and reading them, and also their Bibles, to inform their minds-it was so different from their former course on shipboard. They also appeared cheerful and willing to obey when called upon, and so continued. After a passage of forty-seven days, we arrived in safety at Paraiba, on the east coast of South America. From thence we continued our voyage to Bahia, or St. Salvador, where we arrived the 5th of October. Finding no sale for our cargo, we cleared for St. Catherine’s. The night before our arrival at Bahia, we were fired upon and detained by a Buenos Ayres privateer. The captain pretended to believe that I was loaded with muskets and powder for his enemy, the Brazilians. After satisfying himself to the contrary, he released us.LELJB 218.2

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