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HARRY MARTINGALE: OR, ADVENTURES OF A WHALEMAN IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN

HARRY MARTINGALE: OR, ADVENTURES OF A WHALEMAN IN
THE PACIFIC OCEAN (1848). This melodramatic novel by an elusive
Dr. Louis A. Baker (18??–18??) tells the story of Harry Martingale, a young
man from the Pennsylvania hills who turns to the sea for adventure. On his
second voyage, Harry is tricked into serving a year on a pirate* ship with
storyteller Bill Longyarn but later finds a better position on a whaler, the
Albatross, under Captain Hawser, where Harry works his way from foremast
hand to first mate. On an early voyage the crew battles a notorious whitespotted whale, later killed by an English whaler. In Valparaiso Harry falls in
love with Margita, a devout Catholic. Harry and some crew are abandoned
on an island when the Albatross drifts away, but they are reunited in New
York; on a later voyage a whale tows Harry and a whaleboat away from the
Albatross, and the crew eventually makes its way to Payta (now Paita), Peru.
There it rejoins the Albatross, which is later taken off Dominica by natives.
Baker devotes a scant phrase to conveying the massacre of all the crew but
Harry. Harry’s life is spared due to the intervention of the chief’s daughter;
he eventually escapes in an open boat and is picked up at sea. After five
years away from Margita, Harry finally returns to Chile, where he enters a
church moments before Margita is about to join a convent, and they are
happily reunited.
Though not a source for Herman Melville’s* Moby-Dick* (1851), Baker’s
novel represents, as Howard Vincent suggests in The Trying-Out of MobyDick (1949), an outgrowth of whaling legend in the same vein.