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MERCHANT SEA MEN,
ARRANGED CHIEFLY FOR THE USE OF
Masters and Officers in the Merchant Service.
THE ACT (7 AND 8 VICT. c. 112.);
THE REGULATIONS UNDER WHICH LASCARS MAY BE EMPLOYEV,
SOME FORMS OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE MAGISTRATES.
EDWARD WILLIAM SYMONS,
CHIEF CLERK OF THE THAMES POLICE COURT.
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN AND LONGMANS;
AND M, WATSON, JUN., WAPPING.
TO THE THIRD EDITION.
The alterations made by the Merchant Seamen's Act of the last Session of Parliament, which is to commence and take effect from and after the 1st of January, 1845, have induced the author to prepare a new edition of this work, in which he has adhered to his original arrangement, and endeavoured to combine the provisions of the Act with such rules of the maritime and common law as appear to him necessary, in order to afford a complete rule or guide to nautical men, for whom the work originally was, and still is, principally intended.
To effect a system of registration of British Seamen (including Apprentices), the Act, amongst other provisions, makes it penal to employ a seaman who cannot produce his register ticket. This enactment may cause some inconvenience in the early period of its operation, for want of a proviso to exempt from penalty the master of a ship, who, from some casualty, may be compelled, at a foreign or British Colonial port, to engage a seaman not having a register ticket. This is not an improbable occurrence, because some time must necessarily elapse before registered seamen can be obtained in distant places abroad In such case the master should be prepared to prove the fact, and should endeavour to get it certified on his agreement by the Consul or Vice-consul at such foreign port, or by the Collector or Comptroller of Customs at such British colonial port: for although such certificate would not justify a breach of the Act, it would afford good reason for mitigating the penalty.
It may however be anticipated, that desertion "in parts beyond the seas" will be greatly discouraged by the operation of the Act; and it cannot be too generally known by seamen, that if they desert they would place themselves in a very unfavorable position; for no master could ship them after such desertion without subjecting himself to a penalty, and even if they should get shipped, their wages on the homeward voyage would be forfeited. The Act has effectually provided that the register tickets of all seamen who desert abroad shall be sent to the Registrar of Seamen, and does not state how they are to be recovered. Such seamen will, therefore, have to apply at the Register Office in London, or at the Custom House of one of the “outports of the United Kingdom," to be put in the way of recovering their register tickets, and cannot lawfully be employed till they obtain them.
The forfeiture for temporary misconduct is increased to the amount of six days pay for every twenty-four hours absence or neglect of duty, and deserters are subjected to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, in addition to the forfeiture of wages.
But, on the other hand, the Legislature has not been unmindful of the comfort of seamen-their health, and their pecuniary advantage. The quantity of provisions they are to receive is to be stated in the agreement; lime or lemon-juice, sugar, and vinegar are to be served out to them in stated quantities when
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.
ever they shall have been consuming salt provisions for ten days, and “ so long as the consumption of salt provisions be continued.” In case of reduction in the supply of provisions, each seaman is to receive a proportionate compensation. And in all cases of wreck, wages are to be paid when the seamen shall “ exert themselves to the utmost to save the ship, cargo, and stores."
The regard thus manifested for the welfare of seamen should have a beneficial effect upon
their conduct; but there is room for the exercise of a further degree of kind attention to their condition. It is much to be regretted, that British Seamen—the pride and glory of their country on the ocean-should waste the fruits of their toils and perils in gross sensuality, and be reduced so frequently to the destitute and hopeless condition described in the reports of the Seamen's Hospital Society :* it would materially promote their improvement, if means could be devised in some degree to
* The following is extracted from the 23rd Report of the Society :-" It is a custom generally practised by the crimps and the low housekeepers, who derive a living by their traffic with sailors, to visit ships immediately upon their arrival, in order to persuade the seamen to resort to their houses for board and lodging, where so little care is devoted to the wants of the inmates, that seamen seriously ill when they land, are, through neglect or improper treatment, reduced to a worseeven to a hopeless condition, and, in such state-their money being spent, and their effects disposed of-they are inhumanly turned out to peris in the streets." It ight have been added, that the persons alluded to are too active in getting possession of a seaman's chest and hammock in the first instance and of bis wages afterwards, to allow him any option as to his place of residence.