Though this book considers mainly the
transition period, 1846-1856, its introduction gives an excellent
survey of earlier years. F. J. Turner's Rise of the New West,
which is volume XIV of the American Nation, New York, 1907, tells the
story of the development of the whole territory west of the Mississippi.
Those who are curious to search out all the items of ship construction
will find them adequately illustrated, under the caption, "ship," in
both Standard and Century dictionaries.
Explanation of Diagram
The following diagram, from which many details have been omitted,
presents sufficient data for an understanding of the more important
nautical terms which occur in the text. A number of other such terms
have been explained in the notes. In omitting reference to many more,
the editor has felt that ovarannotation would turn a straightforward
and interesting narrative into a mere excuse for a nautical dictionary,
and quite defeat the purpose of the book. The author's technical
vocabulary, even when most bewildering, serves to give force and the
vividness of local color to his descriptions. To pause in the midst
of a storm at sea for comment and definition would result merely in
checking the movement of the story and putting a damper upon the
Two Years before the Mast affords the teacher a somewhat unusual
opportunity. Few literary works are better calculated to stimulate
inquiry into the remarkable changes which three-quarters of a century
have wrought in the United States.