My favorite volume of the HC -- because it's so weird -- is Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before The Mast, and that's where we get today's reading. It's such an odd volume to include with Homer, etc. But maybe it's just to make the whole Harvard Classics project seem more manly. (Or maybe it's because the Danas knew the Eliots up in Boston; according to Wikipedia Dana's from good solid Brahmin stock.
The reading couldn't be more perfect on this perfect California Sunday, because it's a perfect California Sunday in 1834, and Dana, who has signed on as an ordinary sailor -- ordinary sailors! imagine! -- gets leave:
I shall never forget the delightful sensation of being in the open air, with the birds singing around me, and escaped from the confinement, labor, and strict rule of a vessel—of being once more in my life, though only for a day, my own master. A sailor’s liberty is but for a day; yet while it lasts it is perfect.... Things looked differently from what they did when we talked them over in the little dark forecastle, the night after the flogging at San Pedro.I should say so. There follows an amusing incident familiar to many graduates of fancy colleges -- an incident of the "Where did you go to college?" "Um...New England" variety. Dana and his friend S. want to get away from the ordinary people for a day, but they can't until they go out drinking with them:
S—— and myself determined to keep as much together as possible, though we knew that it would not do to cut our shipmates; for, knowing our birth and education, they were a little suspicious that we would try to put on the gentleman when we got ashore, and would be ashamed of their company; and this won’t do with Jack. When the voyage is at an end, you may do as you please, but so long as you belong to the same vessel, you must be a shipmate to him on shore, or he will not be a shipmate to you on board. Being forewarned of this before I went to sea, I took no “long togs” with me, and being dressed like the rest, in white duck trowsers, blue jacket and straw hat, which would prevent my going in better company, and showing no disposition to avoid them, I set all suspicion at rest.Don't play that goddamn college music on the jukebox, either. Well, they get out and, as many a visitor to San Diego does, head for Old Town -- or as they called it then, "Town." This entails a lot of dealings with Mexicans,
....endeavoring to get horses for the day, so that we might ride round and see the country. At first we had but little success, all that we could get out of the lazy fellows, in reply to our questions, being the eternal drawling “Quien sabe?” (“who knows?”) which is an answer to all questions.San Diego's still like that, really, except people will also say "Dude". Other than that there's not much to tell. They ride horses. They eat at the mission. They avoid Sea World, understandably. And, getting back on the ship, they can rest easy in the knowledge that their trip up the coast will be faster than using the 5.