Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c., 1849.

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On taking the wives of seamen belonging to the ship to sea, to attend on passengers.

The practice of taking seamen's wives to sea, to attend on pasengers, cannot be considered a desireable one for the discipline of a ship, or the good of the service. The women so selected to attend on my lady this, or that governor's wife going to this or that island, are, no doubt, generally very well conducted, still their altered position is frequently too great for them to contend against, by which means, they often are led into vanities and conduct which embroil their husbands in frequent quarrels. If I thought this practice were likely to be beneficial to the seamen, I should be one of the first to uphold it in the strongest possible manner; but my humble experience has taught me, that in taking seamen's wives to sea, you do anything but benefit the seamen; as it often makes their position very unpleasant in the ship, and gives them many more difficulties to contend with. If passengers have the heads of their own servants turned by the foolish attentions they receive ob board ship on a long voyage, the mischief to the ship ends when they leave, but not so with seamen's wives, as when they go out in this manner, they frequently remain until the return of the ship to England. It gives me pain to observe, that on several occasions I have seen these women put all order and good discipline at perfect defiance. If a woman grossly misbehave herself on board ship in her own country, the thing is soon decided by sending her on shore; but in a foreign country, or even in our own colonies, the case becomes more distressing: the distance from her native country, the difficulty of procuring her a passage home, and also the money to pay for that passage when obtained, &c.
Francis Liardet: Professional Recollections on Points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c.
William Woodward, Portsea, 1849. 8vo, frontisp., (6), x, 319 pp, 1 col. plate of signals.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1998 Lars Bruzelius.