網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Thus it appears, from what has been observed, that there are many circumstances which render the operation of wind-sails uncertain, negative, or detrimental; and that, on the whole, they are far from being a remedy against moisture,

Of Stoves.

Stoves are not allowed to a sufficient extent in the royal navy, nor are the small number issued, often put under requisition.

But, if both these defects were remedied, any number of stoves would not be capable of drying in ten hours, that which had been wetted in as many minutes. For, owing to the peculiar construction of a ship's stove, the rays of heat are totally radiated upwards, drying only the atmosphere and ceiling of the deck; leaving the lower deck in nearly its original humid state.

Moreover, there is usually a sulphurous smell emitted from such stoves, impregnated with the deleterious fumes of carbonic acid gas; which, on the whole, does more harm than its heat does good.

Indeed, I never saw any advantage derived from the application of combustible heat, and I am sorry to add, the only permanent means of drying the decks, which has come under my observation, has been through the medium of animal heat; I mean the evaporation of moisture from the decks, by the abstraction of heat from the human body.

Of Drunkenness.

Who hath wo? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes ?

Thry that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. At the last, it bileth like a serpent, it stingeth like an adder,

Prov. of Solomon. The bad effects of Drunkenness in the Navy stand next, in point of fatality, to the pernicious influence of humidity on the health of British seamen. It is not only the sin which most easily besets English sailors, but British subjects in general.

It has long ago slain its tens of thousands, and its seducing and soothing influence over the sensorium, seldom or ever suffered mortal to escape that once came under its powerful dominion.

ing of the lower deck, between the beams. By such an alteration (as the Right Honorable Bart. observed)," the air would be more uniformly diffused, and any possibility of the bad effects of a draught totally prevented."

Drunkenness may truly be nominated an incurable disease, and is only to be evaded by guarding against its commencement.

Spirits, however, are the means of retaining many seamen in the British navy, and often serve as a kind of opiate to those who may have been driven by necessity to enter, or who have been pressed; and are frequently highly useful to qualify bad water. Under these circumstances, our attention ought to be directed, to the best mode of giving them to do the most good, with the least accompanying evil. This will be found, however, to be a most difficult undertaking ; for how shall we be able to name a quantity of rum, that would be uniformly salutary, as a daily allowance, to men of every constitution, exposed to the vicissitudes of all climates ? Placed in such a position, that quantity which is best suited to the majority of men, ought to be adhered to, and our naval predecessors have been induced to consider half a pint of rum, mixed with three half pints of water, as the most salutary quantum for a British seaman in 24 hours. Doubtless there are a number of mariners who can drink this quantity, and on many occasions with much benefit, yet there are many, otherwise strong men, who are literally made drunk by their grog ;' and many men who are weakly, and those laboring under incipient pulmonary and hepatic affections, are hastened to that “bourn from whence none return,” by the daily stimulus of their allowance.

As a suitable allowance to valetudinarians, and those of a certain idiosyncrasy of constitution, cannot be laid down by rule, it is only to be regulated by an officer having a minute knowlege of the respective individuals.

I think, the Admiral's mixture (grog) might still be improved, by adding about llb. of sugar to 16 men's allowance of grog. This addendum would render the beverage more nutritive and agreeable to the seamen, and I will venture to say, the sugar will unite the spirit to the water by a stronger affinity, and on this account intoxication would be less frequent. It is well known, spirits and water is more inebriating than a quantity of fermented

1 Admiral Vernon was the first who introduced the salutary practice of mixing the sailors' allowance of spirits with water, and, like every other man who ventures to depart from the beaten path, was branded with the name of Innovator, and had the nickname of Old Grog, or Grogram (from a kind of silk gown he wore), attached to him through life. The great advantage derived from this change to the seamen is best calculated, by observing ihe confusion and intoxication which take place on certain days, when they are allowed, by way of favor, to receive their spirits unmixed. I venture to assert, that the change (simple though it may appear) was of infinitely. more advantage to the country than the taking of Porto Bello, for which the gallant Admiral received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament.

liquor, (as wine, cider, porter, &c.) containing the same quantity of alkohol. The cause is as follows.

When spirits are diluted with water in any proportion, their mutual affinity for each other is so weak, that the heat of the stomach soon separates the former, which, from its volatility, attaches itself to the superior parts of the stomach, and its effects are thus indirectly communicated from the stomach to the brain, through the medium of the nervous system. Whereas, in fermented liquors, the spirit, water, and other component parts, are so strongly united, that the heat of the stomach is not sufficient to separate them; and they are, in this combined state, directly introduced into the system, and conveyed to the brain through the medium of the circulation only.

The truth of this observation may be proved by experiment out of the body, and accounts for the different effects of fermented liquors and diluted spirits on the human stomach. I have frequently remarked, that grog is less intoxicating, when combined with sugar. Inebriety being a crime for which punishment is very justly awarded in the navy, the greatest care ought to be taken, never to give that with one hand, for which we are obliged to inflict punishment with the other. Power, therefore, might very properly be given, to issue only half or two thirds of the usual allowance to those individuals who cannot drink the whole with benefit to themselves. In the mean time, I am not aware that a man's grog can be legally stopped or lessened unless he is actually on the sick-list.

When a man is charged with the crime of drunkenness, on examination, he is said to be either drunk or sober; but, in many cases, it will be found exceedingly difficult to point out the exact line of demarkation, or to say where sobriety ends, and inebriety begins ; in all such doubtful cases, the odds should be, and of late years generally have been, given in favor of a British tar.'

It has long been remarked, that sailors are the most imprudent class of men any where to be found, consequently the least capable of taking care of themselves in any one way. Doubtless, this peculiarity of character, or apathy respecting their own interest, arises out of the circumstances by which they are surrounded ; namely, by having a complete supply of food and raiment provided

' It ought to be highly gratifying to every British subject, to learn how very sparingly the rud of correction is now used in the naval service, without any falling off in point of discipline or morality on the part of the sea

During my late triennial period of servitude in His Majesty's ship Phaeton, punishment has been exceedingly rare, but well directed; yet, I never served in a ship with so few drunkards.

men.

for them by Government, put under the charge of the purser, to be issued to them when wanted. Since seamen, therefore, are so perfectly insensible to their own welfare, it becomes necessary, that their officers should be on the alert for them, by guarding them against intemperance; regulating their clothing to the climate and season of the year; judiciously ventilating their berths; frequently airing their bedding; and sheltering them (as much as possible) from rain and a scorching sun, &c.

And it is in proportion to the care and patience which an officer displays in thus administering to the comforts of the men under his charge, that he is useful to the service and valuable to his country. Moreover, those individuals in the service require the most attention, to whom we are disposed to give the least; for the more abandoned a character is, the more care is necessary to preserve his health. Hard drinkers, for example, are well known to be most subject to disease in the royal navy; and this arises from two causes; first, the greater degree of exposure to which such individuals are subjected in this state; and, secondly, the subsequent weakened state of the circulation.

I have here to observe, before leaving this subject, that inebriety is not only hurtful to man in a moral point of view, but some of the most noble of his physical qualities are not a little deteriorated by it. It has often been observed, " that men, whose spirits have been exhausted in the revel and danger of a debauch over night, are nerve-shaken, timorous, and unenterprizing, on the succeeding day.”

It is true, British seamen have rarely been found wanting in physical courage, yet, if the majority were drunkards, we might, tremble for the result; but this is supposing a state of morality different to what exists, or applying the faults of the few to the many : happily, we still retain that steady native courage, the legitimate offspring of an unconquered ancestry, who, for centuries past, have kindled with indignation at an invading foe,

“ And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov'd isle."

1

Remedy against Humidity on the Lower Deck. It would serve no good purpose, thus to have pointed out the

This doctrine would almost lead one to conclude, that a man's courage depended on the strength of the circulation, or action of the heart and arteries. Be that as it may, most men are undoubtedly fitter to meet danger, when the circulation has been a little excited by spirits or wine, than after its stimulant effects bave ceased. Moreover, I have observed, that those persons whose pulses were slower than the animal standard, have at least been timorous.

destructive influence of washing decks, if prophylactic means were not, to a certain extent, within our reach. In order, therefore, to preserve the health of a ship's company, the lower deck ought never (or very seldom) to be washed in any season or clic mate, but, uniformly dry holy stoned, and any water that may have been accidentally spilt there, should be carefully and speedily swabbed up, and afterwards dried by means of warm sand or sawdust, kept in a stove in the galley for that purpose.

When the lower deck has been kept after these directions for a short time, it will be found, on examination, that it has become white, dry, and comfortable; and, in the event of seamen sitting, lying, or even sleeping, on it, they will not sustain the least injury : and, not only the bedding and clothing, but even the usual hygrometric state of the atmosphere between decks, will be materially improved, and general good health will be the happy result.

Of the Time and Method of Washing the Main and

Quarter Decks. As the main and quarter decks will occasionally require to be washed, the best judgment ought to be exercised in selecting the fittest hour of the day, and taking care never to continue the operations longer than are absolutely necessary for cleanliness' sake.

Ablution can never be necessary or salutary on the quarter deck in a morning after it has rained, nor should it ever be practised in cold climates, in winter, before breakfast (at least on the present tedious plan, which requires full three hours), but an hour in the forenoon ought to be reserved for that purpose. It has been remarked by many, that the human constitution suffers severely from standing long in water, soon after rising in the morning. I think this may be accounted for in the following way.

It is well known that, during sleep, the heat of the hammocks, the crowded state of the lower deck, and the fuller action of the heart, elicit the circulation more to the surface of the body than in the erect position.

When, therefore, seamen are called up in this state to work in water, under the diminished temperature of the morning, the rush of blood from the surface to the centre is such, that no individual, having the least tendency to internal disease, can sustain the shock, without suffering the most manifest injury.

Whereas, if washing decks were performed after breakfast, time would be given for the seamen to recover from the effects of the heated and vitiated atmosphere in which they had slept; and the system, being now fortified by breakfast, would sustain little

« 上一頁繼續 »