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what we call humbugging. The master
puzzles his head to make work for the crew,
rather than ease the watches. To annoyances
of this kind sailors are more especially subject
in ships carrying no passengers. Passengers
are a check upon the master; but I
have sailed more than once under masters
who have needed no check of that kind, and
who have been kind and fatherly towards
their crews. Then, mind you, nothing to do
is as bad for most crews as overwork. Skylarking
and lop-lollying don't improve a
man's seamanship; and it is well for him to
be kept in regular employ upon some reasonable
duty; but that mustn't be overdone. We
soon get cantankerous and discontented if we
are worried with unnecessary orders, and set
to undo to-day what we did yesterday, and
persecuted with petty acts of tyranny, which
too many skippers are able and glad to
exercise.

There is no help, perhaps, against that last
trouble; but there should be help against
it when either tyranny or want of reasonable
care ends in loss of limb or life. If
I could catch the ear of any honourable
member, I would tell him here is a case in
which we forecastle-men think a little interference
of the law much wanted. I have
seen many a man killed, and I know, and every
seaman knows, that a merchantman rarely
makes two long voyages together without
losing by a casualty at least one of her hands,
or having one or more men maimed for life.
Many of these accidents are beyond human
prevention; but a terrible number of them
are produced by culpable deficiencies in spars
or rigging, or by careless inattention of the
officers in foolishly exposing men to danger.
The country knows we are no cowards,
and we know that there are plenty of fine
noble fellows in command of trading vessels;
and, though I say it, the country should take
better care of us.

But there are some in command who are
not fine or noble, and there are some good
fellows who are careless, and who would be
more careful if they were made responsible
by the certainty of an inquiry into every case
of accidental death on board the ship. If a
man is killed ashore, the beadle takes it up,
the coroner is informed of it, and goes and
sits; the newspapers are told of it, and all
the editors are down like boatswains' cats
upon anything they see foul in the matter;
faulty machinery gets fined, juries storm; and
every one ashore takes the very utmost care, if
only for his own sake, to keep himself from
maiming any fellow-creature. On board ship,
how is it? A sailor is killed. Down goes
some such entry as this into the log book:-
"REMARKS. At six bells in the middle watch,
during a heavy squall, John Treenail went out
to stow the flying jib. The weather-guy
parted; the flapping of the sail sprung the
boom, which broke short off, and the man fell
overboard. Hove the ship to, but, the boats
being stowed on deck, were unable to lower
one in time to save him. At seven bells made
sail; ship laying her course." On the arrival
of the ship at the next port the lost man's
register ticket is given up at the custom-
house, and his death reported there. " The
Merchant Seaman's Fund " claims his clothes
and wages, if no near relatives appear.
Beyond those points no attention is likely to
be paid to the matter by the authorities. The
man's life in such a casea sample of a large
number of otherswas, most likely, lost for
want of a few fathom of new rope to replace
the worn-out guy. In men-of-war, where the
immediate authorities are more responsible,
such accidents don't happen nearly so often,
although there the men are required to be
much more smart, to show much more agility
and to perform, in fact, more dangerous climbing
and skipping up aloft. Many merchant
seamen's lives would be saved every year, if
there were strict inquiry made at home into
the cause of every fatal accident, or serious
bodily maiming; and if, in case of proved
neglect, a money compensation were made
payable by the party in fault to the wounded
man, or to the dead man's parents, wife,
children, or friends.

As for the more delicate care of the sailor's
life, in the way of attending to him when in
sickness, I suppose that to be, in a trading
vessel without passengers or a surgeon, quite
out of the question. A sick sailor at sea is
the lame horse of the team. He is in everybody's
mess and nobody's watch, and his
existence is completely miserable. No lighter
diet replaces the customary rough food, and
the captain physics him according to a
book he carries inside the medicine-chest.
Some masters have a taste for surgery and
carve their patients most unmercifully; but a
blister and a strong dose of salts are the
remedies most commonly in use for all
complaints, and when they fail, the sick man is
happiest who is left to his fate.

I have said nothing about the Twenty-two
Fines and other sailors' grievances, because
Dorothy has hinted to me that if I go through
my list I shall be set down for a regular
grumbler, and get nobody to mind what I am
saying. So I shall say no more, but just put
it to any landsman how he would like to
board and lodge in a forecastle and keep the
watches as we sailors keep them; and whether
he would not growl if, on the top of all this
aggravation, there were piled coils of laws
tier upon tier to keep him down and squeeze
the juice out of him for owners to get at ife
more easily.

Had we been learned and had Brutuses
among us, there would long ago have been
some oratory and some agitation on these
matters; but we are mostly too ignorant to
state our case, and there is nobody except
ourselves who fairly knows it. I shall write
no more; but I wish that somebody who looks
out for occasions to do good, would see into

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