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Windjammers and Sea Tramps   By: (1847-1937)

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WINDJAMMERS AND SEA TRAMPS

By

WALTER RUNCIMAN, Sen.

Author of "The Shellback's Progress in the Nineteenth Century."

SECOND EDITION.

LONDON AND NEWCASTLE ON TYNE: THE WALTER SCOTT PUBLISHING CO., LTD. NEW YORK: 3 EAST 14TH STREET. 1905.

THESE EXPERIENCES AND OPINIONS OF THINGS NAVAL NEW AND OLD ARE DEDICATED WITH EVERY SENTIMENT OF ESTEEM TO JOHN DENT AND WILLIAM MILBURN AND TO THE MEMORY OF E.H. WATTS

CONTENTS

PREFACE I. INTRODUCTORY II. PECULIAR AND UNEDUCATED III. A CABIN BOY'S START AT SEA IV. THE SEAMAN'S SUPERSTITIONS V. THE SEAMAN'S RELIGION VI. SAFETY AND COMFORT AT SEA VII. WAGES AND WIVES VIII. LIFE AMONG THE PACKET RATS IX. BRUTALITY AT SEA X. BRAVERY XI. CHANTIES XII. JACK IN RATCLIFF HIGHWAY XIII. THE MATTER OF FACT SAILOR XIV. RESOURCEFULNESS AND SHIPWRECK XV. MANNING THE SERVICE

PREFACE

"I went in at the hawse hole and came out at the cabin window." It was thus that a certain North Country shipowner once summarised his career while addressing his fellow townsmen on some public occasion now long past, and the sentence, giving forth the exact truth with all a sailor's delight in hyperbole, may well be taken to describe the earlier life stages gone through by the author of this book. The experiences acquired in a field of operations, that includes all the seas and continents where commerce may move, live, and have its being, have enhanced in value and completed what came to him in his forecastle and quarter deck times. He learned in his youth, from the lips of a race now extinct, what the nature and traditions of seamanship were before he and his contemporaries lived. He has seen that nature and those traditions change and die, whilst he and his generation came gradually under a new order of things, whose practical working he and they have tested in actual practice both on sea and land.

It is on this ground of experience that the author ventures to ask attention to his views in respect of the likeliest means to raise a desirable set of seamen in the English merchant navy. But he also ventures to hope that the historic incidents and characteristics of a class to which he is proud to belong, as set forth in this book, may cause it to be read with interest and charitable criticism. He claims no literary merit for it: indeed, he feels there may be found many defects in style and description that could be improved by a more skilful penman. But then it must be remembered that a sailor is here writing of sailors, and hence he gives the book to the public as it is, and hopes he has succeeded in making it interesting.

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

It was a bad day for Spain when Philip allowed the "Holy Office" to throw Thomas Seeley, the Bristol merchant, into a dungeon for knocking down a Spaniard who had uttered foul slanders against the Virgin Monarch of England. Philip did not heed the petition of the patriot's wife, of which he must have been cognisant. Elizabeth refused the commission Dorothy Seeley petitioned for, but, like a sensible lady, she allowed her subjects to initiate their own methods of revenge. Subsequent events show that she had no small share in the introduction of a policy that was ultimately to sweep the Spaniards off the seas, and give Britain the supremacy over all those demesnes. This was the beginning of a distinguished partnership composed of Messieurs John Hawkins and his kinsman Francis Drake, and of Elizabeth their Queen. Elizabeth did not openly avow herself one of the partners; she would have indignantly denied it had it been hinted at; yet it is pretty certain that the cruises of her faithful Hawkins and Drake substantially increased her wealth, while they diminished that of Spanish Philip and that of his subjects too. Long before the Armada appeared resplendent in English waters, commanded by that hopeless, blithering landlubber, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who with other sons of Spain was sent forth to fight against Britain for "Christ and our Lady," there had been trained here a race of dare devil seamen who knew no fear, and who broke and vanquished what was reckoned, till then, the finest body of sailors in the whole world... Continue reading book >>




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