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SIR JOHN ROSS ON FLOGGING AND DRUNKENNESS.
An amusing and instructive statement from the pen of the veteran Sir John Ross has just been published, narrating his observations of drunkenness in the navy and his experience in curing it.
“In the year 1804, on board H. M. S. Hydra three of the best seamen in the ship were severely punished for drunkenness, at eight, a m.' They bore their punishment of thirty-six lashes each with uncommon fortitude, which had the effect of exciting the admiration, as well as the pity of the crew, who had witnessed it; consequently, when below, at dinner time, their own allowance of grog having been stopped, as usual on such occasions, the people of each mess asked them to share a little with them, and before six o'clock, all the three were again in a state of intoxication. Seeing, therefore, the utter inefficacy of flogging, for such an offence, I was induced to conceal their situation from the captain, with the view of taking a proper opportunity of proposing my own method of subduing drunkenness; but I was only a few weeks longer in that ship, and it was not proposed.
“The late Lord Hugh Seymour was a great enemy to drunkenness, and never forgave the offence, excepting on one occasion, which indeed had a salutary effect on His Lordship's subsequent conduct. His infliction of severe corporeal punishment was so proverbial on board his ship, the Sans Pareil
, that alihough no one doubted that a severe flogging would be the consequence of intoxication, it had little or no effect in subduing the evil. One day the captain of the afterguard, one of our best seamen, came staggering on the quarter deck, in a state of inebriety, when His Lordship, accosting him, said, "Jack, upon my honour, I'll flog you;' to which Jack, drunk as he was, immediately replied, "My Lord, you need not put your honour to it, I'd take your word for it; but it will be of no use.' His Lordship forgave this man, whether in consequence of his ready wit, or because he thought it best to substitute a secondary punishment, is not known. Except in very aggravated cases he never again had recourse to flogging for drunkenness.
" In the year 1799, when belonging to the Weazle sloop of war, the captain, Durban, had a particular aversion to flogging
SIR JOHN ROSS ON FLOGGING AND DRUNKENNESS,
for drunkenness, and said to me, who was then acting lieutenant, * I wish you could invent some method of checking this evil.' After some consideration, I made the following proposition : • To separate all persons found drunk from the rest of the crew-oblige them to mess by themselves on the main hatchway, being the most conspicuous part of the ship—to have their dinner after all the rest had done-their clothes to be marked ‘D,' and their wooden utensils to be marked · Drunken mess' —
-10 wring swabs, sweep the decks, and do all the dirty work in the ship-to be made to drink their allowance of six water grog, instead of three, on the quarter deck; and for the first offence to be one month, and for the second, two months, in the drunken mess.' This plan was adopted, had the desired effect, and in a few months almost completely cured the evil in our own ship, and also in several others, to which this plan was communicated.
“But the most remarkable instance was on board His Majesty's ship Victory, recommissioned in 1808, when the wri.er of this article became first lieutenant. This ship was manned chiefly by a draft of men from a ship that was proverbial for drunkenness, which flogging and other punishments had failed to subdue. I proposed my plan to the captain, who gladly adopted it. The effect was wonderful. Every one of the crew, eight hundred, who passed up and down the main hatchway, had a laugh, if not a joke at the drunkards, who were heard to say they would sooner take three dozen lashes at the gangway than be put a second time into the drunken mess.' In short, in six months this lamentable evil was almost completely vanquished. When the drunkards were brcught on deck to drink their six water grog, the captain, and often the admiral, the gallant Sir James Saumarez, used to talk to them, which had a good effect; indeed, there was only one man in the ship who was found incurable. His name was Brown, who, the very day he was discharged, was sure to be drunk. At last he was fairly given up, and obtained the unenviable dignity of captain of the drunken mess.'
“The writer, when advanced to the rank of commarder, practised this plan with equal success in the Ariel, Brisesis, Actæon, Driver, and Isabella, and on several occasions received the high approbation of the Lords of the Admiralty. Since the expedition of 1818, be made an official report of this plan to the Secretary of the Admiralty; but, being then, unfor
SIR JOHN ROSS ON FLOGGING AND DRUNKENNESS.
tunately, out of favour with that functionary, his plan was not adopted, nor his official letter even answered, as was the case with many others he had written and forwarded. The letter referred to was dated the 1st of June, 1819.
"My attention was first called to the subject by observing the baneful effects of intoxicating liquors when in the West Indies. My first service was in a large ship of war, before the French Revolution. While lying at Portsmouth, in the year 1790, my captain said to several of us, Young gentlemen, if you do not go to sea, you will never be sailors. You had beiter, while it is peace, go into the merchant service, and I will keep your names on the books.' Consequently, six of the midshipmen left the ship, as on leave; and I, as one, went to Greenock, was bound an apprentice for four years, during which time I made three voyages to the West Indies, and three to the Baltic. I had, therefore, a good opportunity of observing the injurious effects of intoxicating liquors in both climates.
“My first voyage was to Jamaica, where the captain and several of the crew died. Excepting that I never drank any spirits, I look no care of myself; I exposed myself to the burning sun, slept on deck in the dew, and ate fruit without feeling any bad effects. I soon lost my hat and shoes, and ran about barebeaded and barefooted, but I never tasted spirits, and to this alone do I attribute the extraordinary good health
I enjoyed. 1. “My next voyage was to St. Petersburgh, where I spent the winter in like manner. I was running about, bareheaded and barefooted on the ice, but I never tasted spirits.
"My next voyages were to the Bay of Honduras, and alternately to the Baltic.
“On the last voyage to Honduras, all the common sailors, twelve in number, died, and I was the only person that went out in the ship who came home alive, which I attribute entirely to my abstaining from the use of spirituous liquors.
"I shall now say a few words on my voyage to the Arctic regions, which occupied the space of four years, from April 1829, to October 1833.
"I was twenty years older than any of the officers and crew, and thirty years older than all except three, yet I could stand the cold and endure the fatigue better than any of them, who all made use of tobacco and spirits.
SIR JOHN ROSS ON FLOGGING AND DRUNKENNESS.
“The most irresistible proof of the baneful effects of spirituous liquors upon seafaring men was, when we abandoned our ship, the Victory, in Victoria harbour. We were obliged to leave behind us all our wine and spirits, because we could not' carry any on our heavy loaded sledges, which we had to drag nine hundred miles before we got to Fury Beach. There, indeed, we found provisions, but, thank God, no spirits, and it was quite remarkable to observe how much stronger and more able the men were to do their work, when they had nothing but water to drink ;- but particularly the cook, who was a drunkard, and who, when we arrived home, was in perfect health. He received his pay, went to a public-house, and, melancholy to relate, drank himself to death.”
Now it has sometimes been said that there are advocates of temperance who injure that good cause by their own very intemperate manners. Be this as it may, nothing of that kind can be said of this statement of the veteran voyager-Sir John Ross, who is as honourable a man as any in the British dominions. The few plain facts he here gives are worth ten thousand arguments, and we have copied them into our pages, hoping they will be read and thought of by thousands.
Intemperance is not only a dreadful sin of itself, but it is the prolific parent of almost every other. Scarcely can we take up a newspaper but we find some record of its dreadful doings. Christian men and women ought to avoid it as one of the greatest evils in the world.
Above all things should parents of families accustom their children to drink water only. This is the only safe course for training up a really sober population. The millions of money spent in the indulgence of drunkenness by working-men and idle women is the foulest blot on the character of our country; and, more than all, drunkenness is a sin, which, unrepented of, damns the soul for ever! “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Breast the wave, christian, when it is strongest;
Oh! that we all the truth would bear in mind
THE CHRISTIAN'S HOPE.
On! if the atheist's words are true, Blest be that strain of high belief, If those we seek to save
More heavenlike, more sublime, Sivk, and in sinking from our view, Which says that souls, who part in Are lost beyond the grave;
grief, If life thas closed, how dark and Part only for a time. drear
That far beyond this speck of pain, Would this bewildered earth ap- Far o'er the gloomy graves domain, pear;
Tbere spreads a brigbter clime, Scaree worth the dust it gave. Where care and toil and trouble o'er, A tract of black sepulchral gloom, Friends meet, and meeting, weep no One yawning ever opening tomb.