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Loss of the Mary of Liverpool, 382.
Pumps at sea, 318.
Royal Mersey yacht club, 108.
N AU TICAL MAGAZINE
The British Navy AND ITS SEAMEN. The position which England holds among nations may be gathered from an expression of the Pope:-“I am not uneasy as to the result of my measures, as an English squadron is at sea under Admiral Na
The revolutions of opinions which time brings about, is not more. strongly marked anywhere, or in any thing, than in the recent "doings" at the eternal city”; but it is not there alone that enlightened ideas are practically displayed; there appears a sort of adventual dawn of liberty opening over Europe, and which eventually, perhaps, will spread its benign rays throughout its entire surface.
The signs which are floating in the political horizon, seem to create uneasy sensations in the minds of the rulers of states, of approaching tumult, and without any defined cause for apprehension,-apprehension is felt,—and the wise prepare for the worst.
Report states that we are about to fit out a Channel fleet, supposing it true, the object may be one of pre-caution, or it may be an experiment to ascertain in how short a time a fleet can be manned. If the latter, the economists will "growl” at what they believe to be an unnecessary expense; for such patriots consider no measure can be right which involves an outlay of money. Those however, who have watched events with close attention, will see cause to rejoice that such a resolution, whatever expense it may create,-has been adopted, as it is only by showing that we are fully prepared to repel aggression, we can curb the ambition of other powerful states.
NO. 1.-VOL. XVII.
But, how are our fleets to be manned in war time? That is the great question. We have a "standing" army of one hundred thousand men, and only forty thousand seamen enrolled, which there is a difficulty in obtaining during a peace.
The merchant shipping employ a great many, but there are thousands of British seamen who gain their bread in foreign vessels.
Let us enquire into the cause of the difficulty which is experienced in obtaining seamen to man our ships of war.
It is true that Jack has a propensity to rove;—he is, when not closely bound by the ties of communion, fond of changing his voyage; and, although there is not a more generous being on earth, or one who is more careless of his money, yet is he not devoid of that inherent self-interest which pervades human nature.
It has been the practice of England to restrict the pay of her seamen to a low scale, whilst the merchant finds it necessary, in order to man his ships, to give a higher rate of wages, and to vary that rate according to circumstances. We may rightly believe the consequence to be that the latter has much less difficulty in procuring hands than the former; we may infer, therefore, that, this difference arises principally from the men being better paid in the one service, than in the other; that they appear to be satisfied with the present wages given to them for their servitude in the Royal Navy, because, they do not loudly complain, may not be a convincing proof of that being their real feeling
The conclusion is that there has been a studied desire in the authorities to make the condition of the man-of-war's man as comfortable and happy as possible; and, that still, notwithstanding the carrying out of that desire, we find that, if there is not great reluctance, there is not that alacrity in entering, which we should naturally expect.
In a ship of war, the seaman is better fed and attended to than in a merchant vessel, his individual labour is less, on account of the number of hands being greater in the performance of any specific duty; and al. though the discipline is stricter, it is by no means oppressive,-in fact it is rather conducive to his personal comfort than otherwise; besides, he has his range on shore occasionally,--yet, he enters more readily into the service where his wants are less attended to, than into that where every exertion is made to ensure his comfort and happiness.
It does not appear to us mere whim, or a predilection to change, which creates such a remarkable difference. We cannot believe that the seaman reckless and giddy as he is thought, acts in this without a motive. The capriciousness of his nature may sometimes lead him into excesses, but he is not such an unthinking animal as many believe him to be ; he has, some notion of his own value, and he understands perfectly, the pith of the old proverb that “the labourer is worthy of his hire.” He is not blind to the fact that in the American service, and in that of some other states, he may obtain for his skill, and physical power, a better pecuniary reward than his own countrymen are willing to give him. If these facts are true—then the conclusion is inevitable that, the inducements for seamen to enter the Queen's service, should be made more enticing than in any other.
It may not, as we said before be the fact that because we have managed to obtain crews to man our ships during the peace, that the men are necessarily contented with the wages given to them, it must be recollected that habit, in those who have before served, and the ties of companionship, have great weight with them more so than with any other class of men; and if they were not of a generous nature, and inclined to sacrifice much for the sake of those feelings of regard which bind men together in friendship, and are elements in realising social happiness, it is far from improbable, that the state would be able to entice men to serve it in a time of peace, when the inspiring spring to action, patriotism, is in a great measure dormant.
But, although we believe that, under the happy change of condition which has been effected, the love of country, when that country's honour or safety, is at stake, would be a great incentive to many a seaman to give his aid voluntarily to contend with a foe, yet we think that consideration should not be entirely relied upon; indeed, where there is any thing left undone in the improvement of the seaman's condition, it would be ungenerous and unfair towards him to put the nobler feelings of his nature to the test, in opposition to his self-interest, which in his, as in every other heart, has so powerful a hold; besides, the conviction that amorg all labourers, the seaman is entitled to a conspicuous place in the foremost rank, with those who are acknowledged as great benefactors of their country, should never be absent from the minds of those who have the management of state affairs. From the Sovereign to the peasantall are indebted to him. You could make no impression in diplomacy without his aid;—he is the main spring, the very soul of your commerce, without which you would be but a secondary power; he is the support of your independence;—and he is the guardian of your church and your domestic happiness! you might continue to build ships until those noble fabrics choke up your ports, but, without seamen you would but realize the fable of the giant with his arms pinioned—or, like unto the lamp without the one essential light that is to create it a guide to your way.
There are nearly a hundred thousand British seamen who are serving the Americans, which fact shows that we have a superabundance of that valuable class. It is probable that the principal motive which induces thosemen to seek, in the western land for employment, does not arise from any preference which they entertain for the American service, but because that therein they are better paid for their labour. If you would draw those men back to their own country's service, you must hold out inducements to them; that is but reasonable, and, if there be any fault, it is on your side, not on theirs.
We would say then that, the first thing to be done is, to raise the station of the warrant officers in every respect consistent with the good of the service, so as to make it an object really worth the seamen's while to obtain the ulterior expectation being a situation in a dock yard. The restoration of the widow's pension is a boon that would be highly appreciated, and one which would be an incentive towards correctness of