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which worketh repentance unto salvation. And yet, living on hope and faith, which are about all he gets to live upon, the preacher can hardly help flattering himself that he is making an everlasting impression, even when he has no proof of it, but these deceitful tears—nay, he would rather see tears, though they vanish like the drops of the morning, than to preach to an audience as cold and hard as so many hundreds of Egyptian mummies. We confess ourselves, then, decidedly friendly to this isolation of sailors in the separate church, boarding-house, &c. Nay, we admire even the sailor's peculiarity of dialect—we like the naivete and innocent unsuspiciousness with which he dovetails his mystic salt-water phrases into his conversation with the greenest and most ignorant landsman— we would rather ourselves be obliged to guess out his meaning, than ask him to go one step out of his way to discourse in our vernacular. In one respect alone, we believe, the blending of sailors into the general mass, might be beneficial to them, were such a thing feasible. It might acquaint the sailor with the characters of which he is often
deeply ignorant, and in that way,
teach him to respect himself more by comparison, and also, perhaps, help him to steer clear of all those wild beasts that lie in wait for his blood in the deep, dark coverts of Ann and Water streets. It might also cut down much of the superfluous self-conceit of some shipmasters, caused by a good deal of knowledge about one thing, combined with a habit of command and gross ignorance about most other things, and which leads them to consider themselves au fait in every thing—a conceit which too often prevents them from letting go their swaggering quarter-deck air, as they should, when they “let go” their anchor. But we insist again, that the existing isolation exists by the
choice of the sailor, and it will be time enough for landsmen to complain of it, when the sailor himself begins to desire and to ask for a different state of things. To the questions so pathetically put by Dr. Dewey, “Why may not the sailor marry Why may he not have wife and children P” we are happy that it is in our power to reply, that there is absolutely no obstacle, to prevent this devoutlyto-be-wished-for consummation, either of a moral, social, political or physical nature, as any one may know who will take the trouble and expense of a journey to Marblehead or Cape Cod, or who will examine the parish registers of any sea-port in the land. If the sailor's character be respectable, he can marry a respectable woman—not indeed of the “gig-keeping” rank, but one who will help to maintain his children. Like Dr. Dewey, we object to the seamen's hospitals, as now erected and maintained, but not precisely for the same reason. “Government,” says he, “treats the sailor in this regard as in a condition of minority or pupilage. It takes from his earnings enough to provide for his old age, and thus deprives him of all inducement to take care of himself. Therefore he lacks prudence, foresight. The future provided for, he flings all that is in his hand recklessly away upon the pleasure of the moment.” We must be permitted to believe that Dr. D.'s inference from the existence of seamen's hospitals, is a non sequitur. May not all other men go to the hospital when sick 2 And does the knowledge of this fact render them void of prudence and foresight 2 We doubt whether the sailor, with money in his pocket and health in his body, ever allows himself to luxuriate for a moment on the anticipated pleasures of the hospital, although the hospital is his own building, erected by the sweat of his face, by the money extorted from him by the careful gripe of his affectionate guardian, the government. If there be one thing which the sailor hates above all others, it is the hospital. We have seen tears in the eyes of a sick sailor boy, when told that he must leave the home and go to the hospital—we have seen an old sailor, (the oldest in the United States, we believe,) a man who had “battled the watch” for fifty five years, and who had been in every station, from cabin-boy to chief mate, we have seen him ship as cook, when his frost-bitten feet would no longer carry him aloft or about deck, rather than lie down to grumble and groan and die in a hospital or an alms-house. Call all sailors together in a mass meeting, and ask them whether they will prefer to keep their “twenty cents a month” and “dollar a voyage,” and have no hospital, or continue to pay the taxes with the privilege of the hospital, and those who are sound in wind and limb will cry out to a man, in true sailor style, “Give us the money, and keep your hospital s” In truth, it is the improvidence of the sailor which makes hospitals necessary—not the hospitals which make the sailor improvident. The sailor takes no thought either for the morrow or the hospital—this is his proverbial characteristic—he is learning better things of late— but still this is true of the majority. Those who earn their money by great hardships, dangers and privations, are always most reckless in spending it. From the days of Esau to the present, prodigality has been a characteristic of the hunter, and the same is true of the soldier, who “spends half a crown out of sixpence a day,” and of the sailor, who, as Dr. D. says, will “spend three years earnings, madness as it seems, in three days pleasure.” What Fuller says of the soldier, is still more true of the sailor. He, “as if he counted one purser in the
fleet were enough, so hates covetousness that he will not affect providence for the future, but has generally more marks in his body than pence in his pocket.” His life at sea is a life of hard work and hard knocks—his life on shore is one deep riot in dens of vice—and thus from sea to land, from land to sea, the sailor vibrates in his orbit— from the tarred floor of the forecastle, he swings into the sanded floor of the landlord—from the hard fare of the ship to the poisonous luxuries of the shore, till the springs break, or the machine, worn out, runs down. But though the hospital is necessary, it is not necessary that it should be built and maintained exclusively out of the hard earnings of the sailor. We demand a good reason why the sailor should be obliged to pay his two, six or eight dollars per annum for the blessed privilege of being a sailor. For what reason does government tax those sailors who are not, as well as those who are in its employ or pay, and not tax at all the soldiers who are in its employ and pay Or why does not government, in the wide stretch of its maternal benevolence, establish hospitals for printers, and deduct a fair proportion from their monthly wages to build and sustain these benevolent institutions 2 And why not do the same by the carpenters and barbers and day laborers, and, in short, have a hospital for every class of poor men, built up, from the cellar to the capstone, of the dollars wrung from the overburdened pockets of those who depend on their daily labor for their daily bread 2 “Ah, but,” says government, with all that subtle logical acumen which is usually found among men who defend any course of injustice, “landsmen pay taxes for their hospitals, therefore sailors should pay taxes for theirs;” which, with due deference, is about as conclusive an argument, as if they were to say, “men build the houses that they live in, ergo, horses should build the stables in which they live.” Who build the hospitals for poor landsmen 2 Are they the poor daily laborers ? No, but the rich and poor are taxed alike for them, as they should be, in proportion to the amount of their property; where they are not built and maintained by the voluntary donations of the rich, who are able and willing to be charitable ; and when sailors are taxed in that proportion and no more, then and not till then will justice be done—then and not till then will our skirts be free from the curse which attaches to those who grind the faces of the poor. But as the law now stands, the sailor who is worth nothing but his last month's wages, must pay as much as the sailor who is worth a hundred thousand dollars, if there be any such rara avis among sea-birds. And the captain of the ship, whatever may be the amount of his wages, pays to the United States government just as much and no more than the cabin-boy, who works for six, or the sailor who works for fif. teen dollars per month.” If the sailor must have his separate hospital, (and we think he ought to, though he does not always have it,) the much more equitable way to build and sustain it would be to tax the ship-owner, in proportion to the amount of tonnage owned. True it is, that such a proposition or enactment would not be very palatable to
"It is possible that some might argue the justice of a hospital tax, by maintaining that it is a fair quid pro quo for the “protection”—which, be it remembered, is sold to the sailor, whereas every American citizen who wishes to travel in foreign countries, and who has not the misfortune to be a sailor, can demand and obtain a protecting passport gratis, whenever he pleases, from the Secretary of State. At all events, the said protection is all that the sailor gets in exchange for his hospital tax—for if there were no seamen's hospitals, the sailor could be admitted to the city or state hospitals, wherever he had his residence.
some ship-owners—true it is, that though, in their service, the sailor, through the whole of his stormy and short existence, braves the dangers of every ocean, amid the pestilences that walk in darkness and the destructions that waste at noon-day, though there are merchant princes in our cities who owe all their princely possessions to the ill-paid mariner, yet they never give a penny for his moral and social improvement, but look upon him only as the Southron is apt to look upon his slave, as an instrument doomed of God to labor for his amusement and happiness, and deserving of no gratitude, and having no claims on his justice or even on his benevolence. But justice requires that such men should be compelled by law, since they will not be by conscience, to do something for their servants which will be adequate to their deserts and demands. But upon the subject of seamen's hospitals all has not yet been said, nor have we space or time, at present, to do more than attempt to awaken attention and inquiry upon the subject. It is only in the State of New York, that the sailor who lives to be guilty of the rare sin of old age, can find a seamen's hospital in which he may lie down and die, if he pleases. The State of New York, (unconstitutionally, as we believe,) taxes every sailor one dollar for every foreign, and twenty five cents for every coastwise voyage, and by proving that he has paid this tax regularly, we have understood that he can be admitted to the “Seamen's Retreat,” whether sick, or
* Dr. D. in a note, states a fact which is worthy of record. “The State of New York,” says he, “demands one dollar a head on each arrival in port for the same purpose, (hospital money.) It is said that this tax between 1797 and 1831, amounted to $302,966 82, and that all but $40,800 has been used by the State for other purposes.” And well may Dr. D., and more especially the sailor himself, put the significant question, “What does this mean *''
disabled from old age, or any other cause ; and be provided for till he is able to go to sea again, or till exhausted nature sinks to rest in death. And moreover and still better, there is the “Snug Harbor,” built for the express purpose of providing a life-long home for aged and infirm seamen, by the munificent bequest of Captain Randall, and capable of accommodating vastly more seamen than have ever yet applied. But the United States government, though it is careful to extort to the uttermost farthing its twenty cents per month and per head from every seaman, provides no hospital for old seamen, not even for those who have fought and bled in the navy, but compels them to fall on the parish for support, just as if they were poor landsmen, that had never paid a tax. Three commandments giveth the United States government unto the sailor. 1st. Thou shalt pay thy twenty cents per month hospital tax. 2d. If thou art so imprudent as to break thy leg, or so thoughtless as to fall into a consumption, and presumest to come to the hospital, thou shalt either die or get well within four months, else at the end of that time thou shalt be turned out of doors. 3d. Above all things, be not guilty of old age. Remember it is thy business to die in battle with the tempests—but if in thy sheer obstinacy thou wilt live till time causeth thy once strong and valuable arm to tremble, or unnerves those limbs which once were worth to us $2 40 per annum, thou mayest take thy choice, either to die in the gutter or crawl to the poor-house, for we want thy money for other purposes than taking care of such as thou. In the city of New York, the United States government-tax upon sailors, has amounted to ;"
* We are sorry that our inquiries on this point, have as yet been fruitless.
but it has provided accommodation for only one hundred (sick or dis. abled, not old) seamen, and that in a ward of the CITY Hospital—not the hospital for seamen. We know not what amount of provision has been made in Boston, but we do know that the allowed time of remaining is limited, in naval and all other hospitals for seamen. True it is then, as Dr. D. says, “it is not charity that they most want, but Christian sympathy, brotherly kind. ness”—and we take the liberty to add, justice, above all. They want such a sympathy and brotherly kind. ness, as shall lead those who profess to feel interested in them, to cry aloud and spare not, to shout aloud at the doors and in the ears of government, till it is shamed into justice. Those who instruct sailors should make it their business to urge them to maintain their rights; and the time is coming, we hope it is close at hand, when the sailor himself shall have enough intelli. gence and respectability, virtue and social importance, to enable him to go personally to the head-quarters of his self-constituted “guardians,” and standing up there in all the majesty of a full-headed, full-heart. ed and full-souled man, demand that the bonds of pupilage and infancy be sundered, and that he and his brethren of the deep be allowed, henceforth and forever, all the rights, liberty and justice, of other adult, free-born citizens. Those who preach to landsmen about seamen, might profitably, we think, employ some of the time by leaving the dead level of common-place about the “miserable neglectedness of the poor miserable, neglected sailor,” and going into some more particulars and details. The man who pays his one or five dollars to the sailor's cause, will not be convinced that he neglects the sailor, unless it is shown that he neglects him in a matter which has little to do with his own dollars and cents. What Dr. Dewey says is true, that “the kind of consideration due to them, is not chiefly such as is ordinarily given to the poor.” From his application of the maxim, we are compelled to dissent in the strict letter, though not in the spirit. It does people little good to inform them that others neglect the sailor. In a country like ours, where public sentiment alone can command a repeal of unjust laws and customs, the public sentiment should be roused to a sense of the injustice. When the real oppression and real neglect of the sailor are felt, when public sentiment is roused, when justice to the sailor is done, then shall the conversion of the sailor become an easy work; but you may preach to the sailor till his and your head are bald as a cannon ball, you may scatter your tracts upon his ship's deck, like the pure and plentiful snows from heaven, you may give him “words, words, words” as soft, as sweet and compassionating as ever showered from the lips of the angels, but if you compel him to pay what he feels to be burdensome, unjust and unequal taxes, if you compel him for want of a better harbor to come to anchor in the whirlpools of vice, that open their mouths wide to engulph him as soon as he makes the shore, if you compel him when old, to leave his own hospital and beg a berth in your alms-house, all your preaching and tracts and professions will have little more effect on his mind than the blast of a “stiff sou'wester.” One thing necessary for the highest moral and social good of seamen has never yet been attempted, or alluded to in any discourse or publication that we have ever heard or seen. We mean, the total abolition of the system of paying advance wages to seamen. The system is a perfect anomaly. No other class of workmen are paid, or expect to be paid, till their work is done. The system had its origin, doubtless,
in the hearts of the sailor landlords, at a time when sailors were all helpless, dissolute men. Landlords would not suffer men to go to sea without some remuneration for the liquor bailed out by the landlord and guzzled by the sailor. Therefore the owners were obliged to pay part of the sailor's wages in advance, not one cent of which went into the sailor's pocket, but all into the till of the landlord, and this happy custom continues unimpaired in any respect, even unto this day. The landlord gets the whole of the money, and the drunken sailor finds himself, on some bright morning, in a ship he has never seen before, and bound on a voyage on which he has been despatched by the landlord, while himself was in no condition to make a contract. The abolishment of this system is necessary, because it will be a death-blow to the dens of the rum-selling landlords, more especially in our southern ports. Few sailors reside in or sail out of those ports, and therefore the landlords must depend upon runaways, and those who leave the ship. They not only readily receive them without a penny, but often employ runners to entice men away, and all for the sake of the month's advance. Sober, steady men need no advance, and often sail without it, because masters will willingly pay a dollar more to men who ship without it, for obvious reasons. But the system, if abolished, as it will be before the sailors' millennium, will be abolished not by the keepers of sailors' homes and temperance boarding-houses, or by any connected with societies for the good of seamen, but by shipowners and masters by general agreement. A proposition like this would meet with opposition from many sailors, all rum-selling landlords, and a few temperance land. lords—for these last must sometimes also depend on the advance for their pay—but a little faith and foresight