Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Book of Sea Stories by Cyrus Townsend Brady

"The reason we love the sea . . . is this Homeric spirit of the Ocean Masters that tills the dreams of youth and stirs the memories of old age."


by Cyrus Townsend Brady

MOST of us have passed through a period of life during which we have ardently longed to be, if not actually a rover, a buccaneer, or a pirate, at least and really a sailor!  To run away to sea has been the misdirected ambition of many a youngster, and some lads there are who have realized their desire to their sorrow.  The boy who has not cherished in his heart and exhibited in his actions at sometime or other during his youthful days, a love of ships and salt water, is fit for — well, he is fit for the shore, and that is the worst thing a sailor could say about him!

The virile nations, the strong peoples, are those whose countries border on the sea. They who go down to the great deep in ships are they who master the world.  On the ocean as well as on the mountain top dwells the spirit of freedom.  When men have struggled with each other in the shock of war, or the emulation of peace, when they have matched skill against skill, strength to strength, courage with courage, the higher quality of manhood in each instance has been required upon the sea;  for there the sharp contention has been not only between man and man but between nature and man as well.  A double portion of heroic spirit is needed to meet the double demand.  That is the reason we love the sea. It is this Homeric spirit of the Ocean Masters that tills the dreams of youth and stirs the memories of old age.

In these dreams and memories the veriest boy catches glimpses of the perpetual Titanic struggle of, and on, the deep; dimly discerning in his youthful way, a thousand generations of heroic achievement before, and through which, he begins to be; and he realizes that the ocean affords such a field for the exhibition of every high quality that goes to make a man as may be found nowhere else.  The deck of the ship is the arena upon which he can play a mighty part, and he loves it.  In imagination the boy now discovers a new world, like Columbus and America;  in dreams he opens a vast empire to civilization, like Perry in Japan;  sometimes he fights the battles of the free, like Nelson at Trafalgar;  or he strikes for his own flag on the decks of some gallant Constitution.  If he be a sports man, he may pursue the great fighting sperm-whale, or angle for Jack Sharkee;  if an adventurer, he may seek to pierce the icy barrier of mystery ringed about that polar star by which he guides his ship;  if a trader, he may visit strange lands and seek new markets for his product;  if a missionary, he may carry his gospel of good tidings to dark peoples, ignorant of the meaning of that southern cross which flashes in splendor above them in the midnight heavens, and tell to them the story of the Ruler of the deep.  Wherever men achieve and do, wherever nations grow and prosper, they have a mastery of the sea.

In these pages are gathered stories of the heroes of peace, not less kings of the sea than those who have startled the mighty depths with the thunder of their war-ship guns.  The freshness, the freedom of it, the joy and delight, the calm and rest, the strenuous life, the labor and sorrow, the peril and danger, the reward and success, all are here. We turn back some hundred years to go a-cruising with Cleveland.  We hunt the cachelot with Bullen.  Our own Cooper takes us breathless with the romantic Pilot over the dangers of the Devil's Grip.  Under the Antarctic Circle we watch the sea lions play. Here a mighty monster of the hideous depths seems to spread its tentacles across the printed page in a struggle which Victor Hugo immortalizes.  Flame and smoke are those deadliest of perils to ships toward which gentle Jean Ingelow conducts us.  The sudden mutiny, the long cruise in the small boat, the lonely islet affording the shipwrecked a haven, appeal to us in these pages.  We drift through the teeming waters of the Gulf Stream.  Daniel DeFoe, and Melville and Marryat and Cupples and Russell and Kingston, unroll before us the panorama of the ocean.  There are also men great in other fields of letters who have felt the witchery of the sea and tell us what it says to them — Charles Dickens, Pierre Loti, Stevenson, Charles Reade, and Kingsley.  We envy the boy or girl who reads these tales for the first time.  Fain would we again enjoy such a happy privilege.  And our envy deepens when we think of the wide range of literature to which this volume will introduce them. Lucky young people who open such pages for a first glance!

A Book of Sea Stories is free on Google Books on this link here.

Two Free Sea Stories
by Malcolm Torres

If you enjoy a good Sea Story, these two salty tales are free on this link right here.  These stories are free on all eReaders, including Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Smashwords and Kobo:

Malcolm Torres is the author and editor of sea stories and nautical fiction.