The New York Press Edition – Notes


Interestingly, this tagline (only found in this edition) refers to an event which is not even mentioned in the Chicago Tribune edition. This raises questions as to what the editors of the New York Press thought would draw the readers’ attention.

  • Regarding the sketch:

This drawing is of Stephen Crane around the time of publication.

  • Missing section before “SLEEP IMPOSSIBLE.”

In The New Orleans Times-Democrat and the Chicago Record, there is a block of text added before the section “SLEEP IMPOSSIBLE.”  The text reads:

The Commodore began to turn handsprings, and by the time she had gotten fairly to sea this turned into the eye of the roaring breeze that was blowing from the southeast. There was an almost general opinion on board the vessel that life on the rolling wave was the finest thing in the world. On deck amid ships lay five or six Cubans, limp, forlorn and infinitely depressed. In the bunks below lay more Cubans, also limp, forlorn and infinitely depressed. In the captain’s quarters, back of the pilot house, the Cubans’ leaders were stretched out in postures of complete contentment.

“The Commodore was heavily laden, and in this strong sea she rolled like a rubber ball. She appeared to be a gallant sea boat and bravely flung off the waves that swarmed over her bow. At this time the first mate was the wheel and I remember how proud he was of the ship as she washed the white foaming waters aside and arose to the swells like a duck.

“‘Ain’t she a daisy,’ said he. But she certainly did do a remarkable lot of pitching, and presently even some among the seamen were made ill by the long wallowing motion of the ship. A squall confronted us dead ahead, and in the impressive twilight of this New Year’s Day the Commodore steamed sturdily toward a darkened part of the horizonThe State of Florida is very large when you look at it from an airship, but it is as narrow as a sheet of paper when you look at it sidewaysThe past was merely a faint streak.”

    • “phosphoreseance” (from “SLEEP IMPOSSIBLE.”)

According to the OED, the word has been spelled “phosphorescence” since at least 1770. This spelling, then, is likely a typo on either Stephen Crane’s part or the part of the newspaper printing staff. We will never know.

    • “inexperienced” (from “SLEEP IMPOSSIBLE.”)

Other editions read “experienced” instead, which is an interesting choice, because it suggests that he is excited about filibustering again rather than for the first time.

    • “He is of a portly and noble exterior…” (from “THE COOK IS HOPEFUL.”)

It is interesting that Crane uses present tense here to describe the cook, since he does not do this anywhere else in the story until the end (at which point it is different, because he is breaking the fourth wall). We do not have any clear reason why he does this. Might it be a mistake on his part? Or might it indicate that the cook survives the wreckage and therefore “is” at the time of Crane’s recounting of the tale?

    • “drowsing” (from “ONE MAN HAS ENOUGH.”)

Replaced with “dozing” in The New Orleans Times-Democrat. Seems like a stylistic choice made from within the newspaper staff. Interesting nonetheless, as “drowsing” may indicate the speaker is still slightly awake, while “dozing” would indicate sleep.

    • “grewsome” (from “HELPS IN THE FIREROOM.”)

Derived from the earlier “growsome,” “grewsome” was a common 1800s spelling of the word we now know as “gruesome.” Now you know.

    • “soapish” (from “HELPS IN THE FIREROOM.”)

A word the OED calls obsolete, it means: somewhat soapy. Considering that it is used here to describe the ocean, I’m sure it speaks more to the foaminess of the ocean, as I’m sure the water did not have soap in it. (Or did it?)

    • “blank, blank, blank” (from “HUMAN HOG APPEARS.”)

According to the almighty internet, newspapers used to print the words “blank” or “asterisk” several times in the place of curse words. Not entirely sure, in this case, what the speaker would be cursing… the valise? The man receiving the valise?

    • “Sea” (from “HUMAN HOG APPEARS.”)

The New York Press decided to capitalize “Sea,” while the other editions kept it lowercase. As this edition was the first to publish this piece, the capitalization might have been of Crane’s design. It is likely, then, that the other papers considered it a typo and got rid of it.


Fun fact: subheading changed to “VOICE OF DESPAIR AND DEATH” in the Chicago Record. Certainly adds a more ominous tone. Likely a stylistic choice of the newspaper, and an interesting one, too.

    • “now” (from “A WHISTLE OF DESPAIR.”)

The other editions use “not” in place of “now,” clearly changing the meaning of the sentence. Instead of indicating a moment in which the first mate loses his grip, the first mate has not lost his grip at all in the other editions. “Not” is clearly a typo on the editors’ part, as it makes little sense given the circumstances.

    • “hammerlike” (from “A WHISTLE OF DESPAIR.”)

Of note simply because it is not hyphenated as would make sense: “hammer-like.” This hyphen does appear in The New Orleans Times-Democrat.

    • “scholar in riding school” (from “HELPING THEIR MATES.”)

The Chicago Record replaces this phrase with “school-boy,” which honestly makes a lot more sense… What is the significance of making sure that the simile includes riding school? Maybe riding school is known for spitting out compliant students? Nothing I’ve read says one way or the other.


The Chicago Record changes this subheading to “FATAL PLUNGE OF THE FIRST MATE,” which differentiates itself, because right away we know that the jump will not be successful. Spoiler alert! The heading included here, in The Press, leaves more to the imagination.