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 Christmas - at Home, at Sea 
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That was a nice gesture on the part of the sailors and marines.

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susan


Thu Jun 22, 2006 6:59 pm
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I found this in Baynham’s From the Lower Deck, quoting from Samuel Leech (A voice from the Main Deck). Seeing as apparently he served in both the Royal Navy and the United States Navy, and I haven’t read the book properly, I don’t know with which navy this inebriated festive state took place. :)


“…. at Christmas the ship presented a scene such as I had never imagined. The men were permitted to their ‘full swing'. Drunkenness ruled the ship. Nearly every man, with most of the officers, was in a state of beastly intoxication at night. Here, some were fighting but were so insensibly drunk they hardly knew whether they struck the guns or their opponents; yonder a party were singing libidinous or bacchanalian songs, while all were laughing, cursing, swearing or hallooing; confusion reigned in glorious triumph; it was the very chaos of humanity. …”

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Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:44 am
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Mil Goose wrote:
I found this in Baynham’s From the Lower Deck, quoting from Samuel Leech (A voice from the Main Deck). Seeing as apparently he served in both the Royal Navy and the United States Navy, and I haven’t read the book properly, I don’t know with which navy this inebriated festive state took place. :)

Mary, I believe the quote refers to the British navy since it appears at the end of chapter 2, titled "Joining the Macedonian." Just by coincidence, I found myself just beginning this book when you posted so I was on the lookout for the quote. When Leech wrote this, it appeared in a section on drunkenness and followed an even longer section on the evils of flogging. I do not know about the rest of the book, but Leech so far is not happy in the navy at all.

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Sat Jul 29, 2006 7:57 am
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A Visit to the South Seas in the U.S. Ship "Vincennes" During the Years 1829 and 1830 by Charles Samuel Stewart, Richard Charlton, William French, writing of Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day in storm conditions.

" ...Dec 30 1829..... the rushing of the wind through the masts and rigging.....the flapping and cracking of the sails ..the flying of hats and handkerchiefs overboard, and you will have a total of circumstances as appropriate to a Christmas-eve at sea, as the snow-storm, keen temperature, and blustering north-west wind, are to the same season in Otsego. But ah! for us there was no blazing hearth nor cheerful fire-side; no closely curtained parlour, no happy family circle to join...but a wet and gloomy ship, a gun-room with groaning timbers and bulk-heads, and lights flickering in the wind till their highest service was to make darkness visible; chairs, tables, boxes, and books, fetching away and driving across the deck at every roll, with an occasional crash and jingle in the steward's pantry, as if all his bottles and crockery had gone en masse ...an uncomfortable berth in which it was impossible to lie still enough to sleep, but to which it was necessary to cling till morning, while every wave, sweeping in its fury along the ship's side, muttered its threat so closely and so loudly in the ear, that if from weariness one should fall into a doze, he could scarce fail of being roused from it the next moment, by dreaming of being drowned. ...."

How grim that sounds as I type this in my centrally heated home; warm, dry and comfortable, albeit my part of England, and a good many other areas are, and have been, shrouded in fog for days! I hope this foggy picture link works.

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Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:57 pm
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From Memoir of the Life of Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, Codrington writes in a letter to his wife (entry dated 23 Dec 1812):

"I was amused upon going round the ship last Sunday, to see a whole sheep roasting in the galley, stuffed with potatoes and onions. It seems the mess to which this belonged had bought it, like many others, for a Christmas dinner; but it being agreed that there was no certainty of what might happpen in the intervening time, they determined 'to have a good blow-out whilst they were all stout and hearty.'"

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Wed Dec 27, 2006 11:55 am
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From Narrative of the Late Expedition to the Dead Sea (1849) edited by Edward P. Montague.

"Dec. 25th. Christmas day. All is bustle and life on board: the decks are washed, and the ship looks 'clean as a pink;' the men have made preparations to dress out the forecastle with the ship's colors, and with the evergreens commonly used on such occasions in America. They have planted two tables, and decorated them tastefully. The day is fine, and very warm: the boat comes along with the provisions for the dinner."

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Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:03 am
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From Voyages Up the Mediterranean and in the Indian Seas; with Memoirs, Compiled from the Logs and Letters of a Midshipman (1837) by John Heraud, Christmas in quarantine at Malta:

"...all hands on board were half-seas over (meaning the men); it is a licensed day for skylarking on board. The captain made each mess a present of some grog, as did the mids, and gunroom officers. We have many a man in the ship with a black eye. As Jack can seldom get a drop without fighting, even in pure love, they had it their own way entirely upon the occasion, the officers and some of the marines being expressly on the alert to prevent serious accidents. As usual, on this festival, the swab-washers and sweepers were elected petty officers, and the boatswain's mates were obliged to clean the decks for them.... We had, in our berth, goose and roast beef, with cauliflower and potatoes, and a thumping large plum-pudding. For the dessert, oranges, almonds, raisins, and nuts, with two sorts of wine—Faro and Marsalla."

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Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:05 am
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From the journal of Joseph Banks, kept during Cook's first voyage:

"25th. Christmas Day: our goose-pie was eaten with great approbation; and in the evening all hands were drunk as our forefathers used to be upon like occasions."

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Mon May 18, 2009 2:32 am
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