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    Chapter 19

    Revival at Sea — Arrive in New York — Bethel Ships and Meetings — Friendless Young Men — Arrival in New Bedford — Temperance Reform — Sea-faring Life Ended.

    DURING our homeward-bound passage, our crew seemed more thoughtful and attentive to the religious instructions we were endeavoring to impart to them. It was evident that the Spirit of the Lord was at work in our midst. One James S. gave good evidence of a thorough conversion to God, and was very happy during our voyage home. Religion seemed to be his whole theme. One night in his watch on deck, while relating to me his experience, he said, “Don’t you remember the first night out on our voyage from home, when you had all hands called aft on the quarter-deck, and gave them rules for the voyage?” “Yes,” I replied. “Well, sir, I was then at the helm, and when you finished, and knelt down on the quarter-deck and prayed with us, if at that time you had taken up a handspike and knocked me down at the helm, I should not have felt worse; for I had never seen such a thing before.” Thomas B. also professed conversion at that time.LELJB 232.2

    Our passage home was pleasant, with the exception of a heavy gale which troubled us some, but the good Lord delivered us from its overwhelming influence, and we soon after arrived safely in the harbor of New York City. The first news from home was that my honored father had died some six weeks before my arrival. This was a trying providence for which I was not prepared. He had lived nearly seventy-nine years, and I had always found him in his place at the head of the family after my long voyages, and it seemed to me that I had not one serious thought but that I should see him there again if I lived to return home.LELJB 233.1

    While in the city I had the pleasure of attending an evening bethel prayer-meeting on board a ship lying at the wharf. I enjoyed it very much. Such meetings were then in their infancy, but since that time it is common enough to see the bethel flag on Sunday morning on board the ships for meeting, on both the east and north sides of the river, for the benefit of sailors and young men that are often wandering about the city without home or friends. Many, doubtless, have been saved from ruin by the efforts of those engaged in these benevolent institutions, while other homeless ones, who have not had such influences to restrain them, have been driven to deeds of desperation, or yielded to feelings of despair. The trying experience of my early days made me familiar with such scenes.LELJB 233.2

    On one of my previous voyages, I had prevailed on a young man to accompany me to his home in Massachusetts. And while I was in the city this time, as I was passing through the park, among many others whom I saw was a young man seated in the shade, looking very melancholy, quite similar to the one just mentioned, and not far from the same place. I seated myself beside him, and asked him why he appeared so melancholy. At first he hesitated, but soon began to inform me that he was in a destitute state, having nothing to do, and nowhere to go. He said his brother had employed him in his apothecary store in the city, but he had recently failed and broken up, and left the city, and that now he was without home and friends. I asked him where his parents lived. He replied, “In Massachusetts. My father is a Congregationalist preacher, near Boston.” I invited him to go on board my vessel, be one of my crew, and I would land him within sixty miles of his home. He readily accepted my offer, and on our arrival in New Bedford, Mass., his father came for him, and expressed much gratitude to me for his safe return and the privilege of again meeting with his son.LELJB 234.1

    On our arrival in New York, my crew, with one exception, chose to remain on board and discharge the cargo, and not have their discharge as was customary on arriving from a foreign port. They preferred, also, to continue in their stations until we arrived in New Bedford, where the Empress was to proceed, to fit out for another voyage. After discharging our cargo, we sailed and arrived in New Bedford about the 20th of June, l828-twenty-one years from the time I sailed from thence on my first European voyage, in the capacity of cabin boy.LELJB 234.2

    Some of my men inquired when I was going on another voyage, and expressed a wish to wait for me, and also their satisfaction with the last as being their best voyage. It was some satisfaction to me to know that seamen were susceptible of moral reform on the ocean (as proved in this instance) as well as on the land; and I believe that such reforms can generally be accomplished where the officers are ready and willing to enter into it. It has been argued by too many that sailors continue to addict themselves to so many bad habits that it is about useless to attempt their reform. I think it will be safe to say that the habitual use of intoxicating drink is the most debasing and formidable of all their habits. But if governments, ship-owners, and captains, had not always provided it for them on board their war and trading ships, as a beverage, tens of thousands of intelligent and most enterprising young men would have been saved, and would have been as great a blessing to their friends, their country, and the church, as farmers, doctors, lawyers, and other tradesmen and professional men have been.LELJB 235.1

    Having had some knowledge of these things, I had resolved in the fear of God to attempt a reform, though temperance societies were then in their infancy, and temperance ships unknown. And when I made the announcement at the commencement of our last voyage that there was no intoxicating drink on board, only what pertained to the medicine chest, and one man shouted that he was “glad of it,” this lone voice on the ocean in behalf of this work of reform from a stranger, manifesting his joy because there was no liquor on board to tempt him, was cheering to me, and a strong evidence of the power of human influence. I believe that he was also deeply affected, and I cannot now recollect that he used it in any way while under my command, nor any of the others, except Wm. Dunn, whom I had to reprove once or twice during the voyage for drinking while he was on duty on shore.LELJB 235.2

    Then what had been considered so necessary an article to stimulate the sailor in the performance of his duty proved not only unnecessary, but the withholding of it was shown to be a great blessing in our case.LELJB 236.1

    Some time after this voyage, I was in company with a ship-owner of New Bedford, who was personally interested in fitting out his own ships, and storing them with provisions, liquors, and all the necessaries for long voyages. We had been agitating the importance of reform in strong drink, when he observed, “I understand, Capt. Bates, that you performed your last voyage without the use of ardent spirits.” “Yes, sir,” I replied. Said he, “Yours is the first temperance vessel I have ever heard of.”LELJB 236.2

    My brother F. now took command of the Empress, and sailed again for South America, being fitted out to perform the voyage on the principles of temperance, as on her former voyage. During my last voyage I had reflected much on the enjoyments of social life with my family and friends, of which I had deprived myself for so many years; and I desired to be more exclusively engaged in bettering my condition, and those with whom I should be called to associate, on the subject of religion and moral reform.LELJB 236.3

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