THE STORY OF PAUL BOYTON (1892)
A classic of American travel and adventure narrative, this rare and nearly-forgotten text details the life of "water-god" Paul Boyton (as he was dubbed in Morocco). Boyton gained international fame in the 1870s for traversing rivers and straits in an early dry-suit made of rubber, drifting or paddling his body through the water like a kayak. Boyton was the first to cross the English Channel without a vessel--but because his suit had buoyant air pockets and he used a paddle, Matthew Webb and not Boyton is credited as the first person to swim across the Channel. Boyton later opened the first self-contained amusement park in Chicago, followed by parks in San Francisco and Coney Island, securing his place in the history of popular recreation.
Printed on cheap, hard-to-preserve paper, copies of this book are valued highly among booksellers, and the few library holdings are often only in microfilm format.
The racial stereotypes, so casually presented in The Story of Paul Boyton, detract from its appeal to modern readers; but typified the attitudes of most white Americans of the times. These stereotypes were pervasive elements of the popular culture of the 1890s. However, the sentiments Boyton expresses at the sight of a slave auction and the horror of the slaver wreck appear genuine.
[This digitization effort is dedicated to my late aunt Enid Fiatte, who in 1972 gave me a Yankee Magazine article on Boyton's voyage down the Connecticut River. --Jerry Kuntz]
Download the entire ASCII text (storyofpaulboyton.zip), 328KB
THE STORY OF PAUL BOYTON
VOYAGES ON ALL THE GREAT RIVERS OF THE WORLD, PADDLING OVER TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND MILES IN A RUBBER DRESS
A RARE TALE OF TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE
THRILLING EXPERIENCES IN DISTANT LANDS, AMONG STRANGE PEOPLE. A BOOK FOR BOYS, OLD AND YOUNG.
To my beloved and gentle wife, whose patience and help have enabled me to present the public the story of my life. -Paul Boyton
CHAPTER I.-On the Allegheny. First Attempt at navigation. The Grey Eagle. Voyage on a coal fleet.
CHAPTER II.-College days. Bruce's dam. The Fort of the Wild Geese.
CHAPTER III.-In the U. S. Navy. A voyage to the West Indies. Diving for treasure.
CHAPTER IV.-Wrecking with Captain Balbo. In the hull of a slaver. A swarm of sharks. Joining the Mexican revolutionists.
CHAPTER V.-Entering the life saving service. Grateful people. In the Franco-Prussian war. Failure of the Cuban expedition.
CHAPTER VI.-As a submarine diver. The Diamond fields of Africa. A floating Hell. An escape at Malaga.
CHAPTER VII.-The rubber dress. Overboard from the steamer Queen. Landing on the coast of Ireland.
CHAPTER VIII.-Arrival in Queenstown. The first lecture. In Dublin. Appearance before Queen Victoria.
CHAPTER IX.-Voyage across the English Channel. Pigeon dispatches. Landing in England.
CHAPTER X.-In Germany. A voyage down the Rhine. Through the whirlpool of Lurlei. The press boat.
CHAPTER XI.-A short run on the Mississippi. The funny Negro pilot. Down the Danube and the Po. Attacked by fever. Lucretia Borgia's castle.
CHAPTER XII.- Voyage on the Arno from Florence to Pisa. Narrow escape over a fall. Down the Tiber to Rome. Across tbe bay of Naples. Knighted by King Victor Emmanuel.
CHAPTER XIII.-The Straits of Messina. Attacked by sharks. Whirlpools of Scylla and Charybdis. Lake Trasimene.
CHAPTER XIV.-Quick voyage down the Rhone. The smugglers' chain. The gambling palaces of Monte Carlo. Down the Loire. In the Quicksands.
CHAPTER XV.-On the mysterious Tagus from Toledo to Lisbon. Over great falls and through dark canons. Ancient Moorish masonry. The villainous brigands.
CHAPTER XVI.-From Europe to Africa, across the Straits of Gibraltar. Preparing for sharks. Contrary currents and heavy overfalls. Landing at Tangier.
CHAPTER XVII.-Paddling in the ice floes on the Allegheny. Down the Ohio to Cairo. Queer characters. On the Mississippi. Strange sights and sounds. The comical darkies. Alligators. "Dead man in a boat."
CHAPTER XVIII.-Voyage on the Merrimac. Some peculiar people. A rough trip down the Connecticut. Lost in a Snow Storm. A winter in Florida.
CHAPTER XIX.-Off for South America. An officer in the Peruvian service. Placing torpedoes. Caverns of the sea. Inca Tombs. An escape from prison and rescue from a lonely island.
CHAPTER XX.-The Upper Mississippi. The German Doctor and the negro boatman. Arrival at Cairo. Hunting and fishing.
CHAPTER XXI.-The longest voyage. Down the Yellowstone and Missouri. Thrilling adventures through the western wilds. In the tepees of the Indians. Caving banks, snags and mud sucks. Camp of the Rustlers. Arrival in St. Louis.
CHAPTER XXII.-Hunting in Southern bayous. An interesting voyage down the Arkansaw. Haytien insurgents. Down the Sacramento. A night on Great Salt Lake. Down the Hudson. In the ice on Lake Michigan. Catching seals.
CHAPTER XXIII.-Boyton to-day.
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