The Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore.

p. 42-3, description of life of impressed seaman: With books he was for many years ‘very scantily supplied.’ It was not till 1812, indeed, that the Admiralty, shocked by the discovery that he had practically nothing to elevate his mind but daily association with the quarter-deck, began to pour into the fleet copious supplies of literature for his use. Thereafter the sailor could beguile his leisure with such books as the Old Chaplain’s Farewell Letter, Wilson’s Maxims, The Whole Duty of Man, Secker’s Duties of the Sick, and, lest returning health should dissipate the piety begotten of his ailments, Gibson’s Advice after Sickness. Thousands of pounds were spent upon this improving literature, which was distributed to the fleet in strict accordance with the amount of storage room available at the various dockyards. [Footnote: Ad. Accountant-General, Misc. (Various), No. 106—Accounts of the Rev. Archdeacon Owen, Chaplain-General to the Fleet, 1812-7.]

p. 82: The negro was never reckoned an alien. Looked upon as a proprietary subject of the Crown, and having no one in particular to speak up for or defend him he ‘shared the same fate as the free-born white man.’ Many blacks, picked up in the West Indies or on the American coast ‘without hurting commerce,’ were to be found on board our ships of war, where, when not incapacitated by climatic conditions, they made active, alert seamen and ‘generally imagined themselves free.’

p. 90: The only exceptions to this stringent rule [of impressments] were certain classes of men engaged in the Greenland and South Seas whale fisheries. Skilled harpooners, linesmen and boat-steerers, on their return from a whaling cruise, could obtain from any Collector of Customs, for sufficient bond put in, a protection from the impress which no Admiralty regulation, however sweeping, could invalidate or override.