Of religion, culture and productivity (updated)
I've been a little remiss in keeping up with Richard Henry Dana's blog over at "Two Years Before the Mast" and hope to do some formatting and scheduling so it will update more regularly.
Meanwhile, if you haven't visited or haven't done so lately, the current piece is well worth a look. Dana seems to vacillate between scorn for the unproductive crews of ships from Italy, Mexican California and the Sandwich Islands and envy of their more frequent holidays and liberties.
Here's a sample, but the rest is very much worth a read. The crew of the Pilgrim is aloft tarring the ship on the Monday after Easter:
After breakfast, we had the satisfaction of seeing the Italian ship's boat go ashore, filled with men, gayly dressed, as on the day before, and singing their barcarollas. The Easter holidays are kept up on shore for three days; and, being a Catholic vessel, her crew had the advantage of them. For two successive days, while perched up in the rigging, covered with tar and engaged in our disagreeable work, we saw these fellows going ashore in the morning, and coming off again at night, in high spirits.
So much for being Protestants. There's no danger of Catholicism's spreading in New England, unless the Church cuts down her holidays; Yankees can't afford the time. American shipmasters get nearly three weeks' more labor out of their crews, in the course of a year, than the masters of vessels from Catholic countries. As Yankees don't usually keep Christmas, and shipmasters at sea never know when Thanksgiving comes, Jack has no festival at all.
PS -- In other blog news, Weekly Storybook is now featuring oral histories from the WPA Writers Project. The current story is a droll recounting by his son of a preacher's inglorious attempt to eke out a second income as a Nebraska farmer in the 19th century.