« ForrigeFortsæt »
ADDRESSED TO SAILORS.
China, September 22, 1822. BRITISH SAILORS! Men born in Christian lands !—In consequence of your being now far off from your native islands, and from your kindred, and sojourning for awhile on the borders of a proud pagan nation, I address you as a fellow-countryman and as a friend. I desire to appeal to your understandings and to your good feelings. I desire to promote your personal respectability, the honour of our country, and your happiness, both in this life, and in that eternal state of existence, which God our Saviour has assured us will come after the death of the body. Your circumstances as to your kindred at home are no doubt very
various; some of you have fathers and mothers yet alive, who are anxious about their sons, exposed as they deem to the perils of the ocean; scorched by the hot rays of a vertical sun; and in danger of being seduced by bad company to impiety, to drunkenness, or to debauchery; other men and lads are fatherless or motherless, and alas! friendless: others again, it may be, are the only support of an aged mother, of a sister, or of a wife and family. I address you as a man who knows the feelings of a son, of a father, of a husband, and of a friend; and I hope on the perusal of this paper you will cherish all the kindest recollections of your homes and your kindred; that serious reflections may gain the readier access to your understandings and your
Sailors! you know that, in reference to fighting his country's foes, the gallant NELSON said, " England expects
every man to do his duty." This was nobly said in the day of battle, and it is not less true in the time of peace; England expects, and I will add, Heaven expects, every man to do his duty. Now every man has certain duties to perform to himself, to his kindred and country, to mankind generally, and to his God and Saviour. And what is man? Man is a creature composed of a body and of a soul in his body (the flesh, and blood, and bones,) man resembles the beasts; but in his soul, a spiritual thinking substance, he resembles the angels; when the body dies, the soul dies not, but passes to an invisible eternal state. Man is a creature accountable for his thoughts, his words, and his actions to Almighty God, the Maker and Preserver of the Universe, which is composed of the sun, the moon, and the stars; the earth, and all that are on it; the ocean, and all the creatures that are in it. Every man therefore should remember daily that he is not allowed to do as he pleases; but he must do what reason, and conscience, and God's declared will require him to do. When God Almighty made the first man, he taught him to know his will perfectly; and all nations, the Chinese and other heathen nations, have retained to this day some part of this knowledge; and any man may, from studying God's works and God's providence, infer, to a considerable extent, the will of God; but God's will is most fully made known in the books written by Moses and the Jewish Prophets; and by the Apostles and other Disciples of Jesus Christ our Saviour; for those men, out of mercy to all mankind, were taught by God Almighty, what was his will, and what he required of men, and what were his plans of mercy towards men. Now then, Reason, and Conscience, and the Bible must be your guides, and you ought to think and read; and also take the advice of well-intentioned men, who may have had more time to think and to read than you have had. It is on this supposition, that I, although not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, may have had more time and more favourable opportunities than some of you, that I take upon me to volunteer my advice.
Your duty to yourselves requires you to take due care
both of your body and of your soul. You must work to obtain an honest supply of food and raiment; and that, if possible, you may have an overplus to help your kindred, some of whom may be old, or sick, or helpless. If a man merely eats, and drinks, and works, and sleeps, and never thinks about his family, or of improving his own mind, or of promoting the welfare of his immortal spirit, he lives as if he were all body, and not better than the beasts and further, if a man exerts his mind as well as labours with his hands, only to pamper his animal appetites, he makes his soul, which is the spiritual, noble, and angelic part of his nature, a slave to the brutal part, the animal body, and so, in many cases, becomes worse than a beast; or, as some old writers say, such a man is "half brute and half devil." A good man uses his reason and religion to regulate his animal appetites, because God has forbidden excess and irregularity, and because the unrestricted indulgence of appetite and lust is injurious to man's health; wastes the property which should enable him to do good to his kindred or to the sick and distressed; for excess and irregularity are generally injurious to other people, either by the withdrawment of some good, or by the infliction of some positive evil.
Those of you who have performed several voyages to China, know very well, that annually many men belonging to the fleet die at Whampoa; sometimes by the usual course of God's providence, without any direct cause induced by themselves, and in this case they are blameless; but also sometimes in consequence of diseases brought on by drunkenness and lewdness before coming to China; or by indulgence in the same vices whilst in China. Now although it is sometimes said " such a man is only his own enemy, he hurts nobody but himself;" this is not quite true. If he have parents or sisters to take care for him, and he for them, he injures them by bringing on his own death, he grieves their hearts, and perhaps brings down a parent's grey head with sorrow to the grave. Besides, the drunkard often injures others by his quarrelling and fighting and the whoremonger either reduces a poor and much
to-be-pitied woman to the most degraded state possible in this life, and to the most hopeless for the life to come; or he assists in perpetuating that unhappy state. Let every man feel for a poor prostitute, as he would if his own mother or his sister were in that state. It is not true that drunkenness and debauchery injure only a man's self: however, if it were true, still every man, (a sailor as well as any other man,) should in duty to himself avoid making his mind the servant or slave of the merely brutal part of his person; and should employ reason and religion to regulate his appetites. All a man's duties to himself and to others, are moreover sanctioned by the approbation of God, and a violation of those duties is followed by his displeasure. Providence has attached, as an usual consequence, disease and penury to intemperance and lewdness; and the Bible says, "for these things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience."
In China the British Sailor too commonly misuses the leisure of the Sunday; and on liberty days abandons himself to the grossest, and most unrestrained indulgence of his beastly appetites; even when on duty at Canton, he sometimes allows himself to get drunk in Hog-lane; and in so doing, not only injures his health, but exposes his person, his country, and his religion to the scorn of the Pagan Chinese; and he, in common with every unjust, covetous, avaricious, lying, drunken, debauched European, in Pagan countries, causes God our Saviour to be blasphemed amongst the heathen; such men, whatever their station, or whatever their cloth, not only neglect their own salvation; but also hinder the salvation of others. These are awful views of the subject, and not alone applicable to sailors in China.
But to return,-British Sailors! it is allowed on all hands that you possess courage and generosity; that you can fight hard, when your commander bids; and that you will jump overboard at the risk of your own lives to save a person drowning: still war and danger are evils; you do not wish an eternal continuance of strife and of hurricanes. What is your character in peace! I will tell you; you are
accused in the British Parliament, and in the English newspapers, and in the conversation of some gentlemen, of being ungrateful, turbulent, and riotous; and of getting drunk, and of quarrelling, and fighting, and sometimes of causing the death of the natives; and by such conduct, in China particularly, of occasioning an immense loss of property to your employers, by involving them, through your misconduct, in discussions with the Chinese Government, to prevent your being tortured and strangled unjustly in cases of accidental homicide. The Chinese law will not excuse a man who kills another in a fight, because the other man struck him first, or insulted him by words or looks. The English law does not allow of slight pretexts for killing a man; and the Chinese law is more strict than the English law is. If therefore you get drunk, or put yourselves in a passion, and fight and kill a native, you will not only be censured by your countrymen, but your own life may be sacrificed, should the facts be proved against you; for nobody should screen a murderer. The sailors of other countries are commended as more reasonable and better behaved than you are; and even the Chinamen are preferred before you, as an orderly sober people. Now, as a man, and a man bred up in a Christian land, every sailor in the Chinese fleet should reflect, and see how far these accusations are true in reference to himself; and if his conduct has heretofore given just occasion for these censures, let him resolve to alter his conduct. Let him think of his home, of his kindred, of his country, and of his Saviour, and no longer by his misconduct cause injurious reflections to be thrown on them. And let him think of his duty to himself; that he has a soul to be saved, as well as a body to be fed and clothed; and let him resolve to be true to her who is, or whom he intends (if Heaven will) to make his wife. Thus with God's help, a general reformation in the conduct and character of British Seamen who frequent China will take place, and the shameful excesses of liberty-days will be discontinued.
I might here reason with seamen on their duties to mankind generally, to Hindoos and to Chinese, to Malays or