A Sailor’s Experience Among Sea Dogs and Land Sharks.
( 1870), Boston
18 cm. 257, 12, (4 publisher's ads) pp. b/w photo frontispiece.
As is the case with most narratives of religious conversion, Esping’s days as a drunken rowdy sailor are more interesting than his labors as a converted missionary. In the 1850s he shipped on a coaster in New York, drank and brawled his way down to Savannah, got thrown in jail, shipped for Liverpool on an English ship, to Africa, where he went blind, back to Liverpool where he recovered his sight. New York, East Indies for pepper, a tour on a U.S. Revenue cutter, a failed marriage, West Indies, more drunkenness, Chincha Islands, New Orleans, jail again in Greenock, where, finally, he is converted. Happily, by this time we are more than 2/3 of the way through the book. I glanced through the last 60 pages, but gave up after I came across a passage where a man dies in his arms, happily having found the Pearl of Great Price. Kidding aside, this is a lively and uncommon seaman’s narrative, adorned with a striking albumen photo of Mr. Esping as a frontispiece, signed by him (I’ve had two other copies of this book, neither of which were signed.) Scarce in the trade. Nothing but reprints online. Not in Smith, Hill, or Howes. Bound as issued in brown cloth with gold spine lettering and decoration. Spine ends worn, binding lightly rubbed, lean to text block.