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(5) Conduct on board ship [[35-41]]

[*discretion*; *Hindostanee and Persian*; *danger of fire*]

[[35]] When a ship arrives at any regular port, where accommodations can be procured, the passengers are, in like manner, expected to reside on shore, at their own charge. This, to many, may appear unreasonable or strange; but considering what heavy losses a commander might else incur, which,divided among a number appear trifling, and at all events may not prove ruinous, the propriety of such a rule will not be disputed.

This explanation may serve as a hint to parents and guardians not to ship young folks in forma pauperis under the prudent, but here inapplicable, precaution of taking away the means of being extravagant. Emergencies often arise, wherein a few pounds are indispensably necessary, and as few go to sea with more cash than ordinary expenses may demand, it is not easy to remedy the error.

Where a young man has established his character for imprudence, the only recourse is to place from twenty to thirty pounds in the hands of the captain, officers, purser, surgeon, &c., when known to his friends, with directions to supply what may be absolutely required, rather in form of a loan; keeping the youth in ignorance, if possible, of his having a banker on board, and giving him, at taking leave, perhaps five of six sovereigns, in order so far to carry on the deception. In the list of passengers some respectable characters may be found who, on proper application, may be induced to perform this kind office to a stripling, in such a manner as not to wound his feelings [[36]] or expose him to unnecessary hardships during any period of the outward voyage.

As no shop of any kind exists in a ship (excepting the purser's slop-shop), there can be little opportunity for extravagance. The principal danger to be apprehended is from gaming, which in some ships reaches to a dreadful extent, always creating difficulty and rarely terminating without bloodshed. This, added to emulation for the favourable opinion of the ladies, may be considered as the usual causes of discord. The latter is, in a great measure, restrained by that custom which fixes every passenger to the same seat at table during the whole voyage; whereby daily contests for vicinity are avoided.

During the passage out, the cadet should be circumspect in his conduct, complaisant to all, and careful with whom he forms an intimacy: he should wait till he has studied the characters of the persons on board, before he selects his companions. This may always be done without appearing unmeaningly open to some, or particularly reserved with others. The officers and midshipmen on board the Company's ships are gentlemen, with whom the cadet may freely associate, if he finds them agreeable; but with the petty officers of a ship, as master at arms, carpenter, or boatswain, he must avoid all intimacy: for though these persons may be as morally worthy as those above them, yet in the naval as well as the military service there is a certain gradation of rank, which must be properly attended to by every officer. The ensign and cadet are allowed to associate with the general, and must not harbour among the petty officers. These observations are not intended to sanction pride or assumed consequence, than which nothing is more contemptible; on the contrary, they recommend a pleasant condescending [=courteous] civility as due to every man.

[[37]] Besides the causes already enumerated that might break up the harmony of society on the long voyage to India, may be noticed the casual introduction of politics or national reflections, than which no topics can well occur so objectionable in a mixed company, where the private history of individuals or their connexions must he imperfectly known to each other.

This consideration should impose a salutary restraint even respecting the injudicious mention of crimes, punishments, calamities, &c. which affect particular persons, and consequently their families or relatives, who are thus subjected to the most painful sensations, by people who had no intention to wound the feelings of any man, far less of an estimable shipmate, innocent of all blame, beyond the misfortune of having been connected by blood or marriage with some worthless being whose misdeeds have .previously been trumpeted through every newspaper.

Humiliating hints about black blood and blue casts ought sedulously to be discountenanced, lest they raise a blush in animated faces, which otherwise would never have betrayed the smallest affinity with the obtrusive remarks.

The most practical antidote to many evils of a tiresome passage to the East, would be due encouragement of scientific pursuits, useful employment, and harmless pastime, from first to last: which might occupy as many hours every day as would not prove detrimental to health, nor encroach too far upon the social enjoyments of a ship.

Those who have separate cabins can be at no loss to follow the bent of their inclinations to cultivate favourite and beneficial studies with considerable success during a period of five months; and they who act thus will commonly be found the most agreeable portion of the captain's [[38]] temporary guests. Their conversation will be enlightened, their manners engaging, and their moderation in eating, drinking, speaking, and everything else altogether exemplary. In short, the individual possessed of a rational inoffensive hobby, may ride it the whole way to India with safety to himself, and advantage likewise to all who cannot singly mount so desirable a horse.

Among a great variety of indispensable objects for local accomplishments, not one can claim precedence of colloquial knowledge in the two languages of greatest utility in British India, namely, the Hindoostanee and Persian tongues; which, combined, form the common high-way to every one of the rest, either as classical or aboriginal monuments of speech, partially or generally, over the whole Asiatic peninsula.

It may here be not unsuitably added, that for several years past, every adventurer to India has been able easily to procure free access to Gilchrist's gratuitous [=free] lectures in London on those two languages, Hindoostanee and Persian. Thus by punctual attendance from the short space of a few weeks to six or twelve months, nearly one thousand students have acquired not only enough to enable them to prosecute their philological labour successfully while at sea, but a number have auspiciously passed their examinations as linguists soon after landing, and are now in actual possession of two or three staff appointments, in consequence entirely of such laudable proficiency in this initiatory department of Oriental literature./1/

Few ships, of any season, are entirely without some of the gentlemen who have profited by attendance on the [[39]] lectures in question, and they are, with hardly an exception, both qualified and desirous to communicate a very correct pronunciation, and often a large share of their own grammatical progress as practical Orientalists.

From the long lists, occasionally, of such applicants for the outward passage, some captains of Indiamen have been induced to accommodate them with an apartment for the sole purpose of an eastern class-room or floating school; whence, in divers instances, the most advantageous results have proceeded, which tend to make this indulgence a matter of the utmost importance to all concerned; and it would be still better were the practice to become general.

When no convenience of this kind exists, the fools and knaves of each juvenile cargo strive by every species of interruption either to annoy the studious or corrupt the minds of their youthful shipmates into frivolous and baneful pursuits, lest they should, immediately on landing at their respective places of destination, eclipse the whole flock of idlers -- who may then learn, when too late, that the hour of comparative trial has come at last, which may forever settle their several prospects of lucrative or barren appointments in different branches of the Company's service.

The number of accidents from trivial causes renders it necessary to be extremely cautious as to smoking, which in all men-of-war, and India-ships, is permitted only on the fore-castle. Thus danger is avoided, and the stench carried away. It is to be lamented that this proper regulation is not observed throughout the merchant service; in which so much carelessness prevails that it appears almost miraculous that so many vessels arrive in safety.

A gentleman once embarked at St. Helena on board a whaler, of which the captain had a strong predilection for his pipe, which was scarcely ever out of his mouth. His [[40]]  practice was to smoke in the dinner cabin, throwing his hot ashes down upon the deck, in which was a skuttle, or small hatch-way, under his own seat. Two lieutenants of the navy, who were also passengers, used to remonstrate very freely, but without the smallest effect, against a practice so improper.

It happened one morning, as they were off the Azores, that a suspicious-looking vessel hove in sight, laying-to under close reefed top-sails. The course was altered, and immediately the whaler was chased. Having at least forty-five young fellows, and about a dozen six-pounders, on board, the ship was cleared for action. The surprise of all on board was inconceivable, at finding that under the identical hatchway, over which the captain had been perpetually smoking, was a magazine of about thirty barrels of gunpowder; some hooped in, and some having their chimes barely covering their contents, which proved to be ready-filled cartridges! Had the vessel in chase proved to be an enemy, and the whaler been compelled to defend herself, it would have been utterly impossible to have avoided being blown up, before the action could have terminated in victory or defeat.

Many passengers are in the pernicious habit of reading in their beds by candle-light. This only requires to be known to the officers, to be completely over-ruled. Nor will they, unless in cases of indisposition, allow a candle to be burning after the passengers have generally retired to rest. Hence, only a few wax-tapers, or rushlights, can be requisite. Considering that a ship is composed of materials for the chief part highly combustible, and that in such a situation a fire spreads with astonishing rapidity, defying the exertions of all on board; also, that there is little chance of many lives being saved, unless other vessels [[41]] be in company, every means of guarding against so terrible a calamity ought assuredly to be adopted.

Most ships have a small fire-engine on board, which is not only an admirable safeguard, but facilitates the washing of decks; an operation usually performed once or twice a week. At such times all the chests are sent below, and all the hammocks hauled upon deck, for the purpose of being aired. Seamen become habitually cleanly in their persons, and in their bedding; but recruits when on board, being less attentive to personal appearance and comfort, not only breed vermin, but sometimes propagate infectious diseases. Hence, a small quantity of vermin-ointment may prove a useful succedaneum.

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/1/ Every particular concerning Gilchrist's numerous publications and lecture-rooms will be ascertained by calling on the Company's booksellers, at No. 7, Leadenhall-street, London; where cards of admission, gratis, will be obtained, on which the place, time, and subjects of each day's discourse are distinctly inserted.


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