Useful Hints for Young Gentlemen
Mr Bligh's Bad Language; Passion, Power and Theatre on the Bounty, Greg Dening, 1992
Christopher Claxton offered … in his manual, The Naval Monitor: Containing many Useful hints both for the public and private conduct of young gentlemen in, or entering, that profession in all its branches — in the course of which and under the remarks on gunnery, are some observations on the naval actions with America, also, A plan for improving the naval system as far as it regards that most useful set of petty offficers, the midshipman (London, 1815).
Claxton's advice to midshipmen was full of the commonsense of military institutions. The essence of learning command was to have a Machiavellian prudence on the inside of one's head and shining enthusiasm on the outside. 'Strive to do everything better than everybody else', he wrote, much in the fashion, one suspects, that Dale Carnegie would have written had he been of the eighteenth century. 'Never lose an opportunity of volunteering… The more hazardous and difficult the more credit.' 'Never admit an idea of not succeeding to enter your head. Want of confidence in yourself, if you feel it, will shew itself in your countenance.' 'It is a great blessing that British sailors have no thought or reflection. Men naturally look up to officers, particularly if they know him to be good.' 'To have the real glow of animation and confidence painted on your countenance, it is almost necessary to be in love with the enterprise. A gallant and confident inward feeling will display an animating, bold and encouraging exterior.'
Never walk, always run. Never take the slightest liberty with the men. Never reply to reproofs. Never refuse to dine or breakfast with the officers when you are invited. Never strike a seaman. 'The sting of the blow is felt much longer than the outward pain it inflicts… Nothing can palliate it. It is subversive of good order, discipline and regularity as it is disgraceful.' Be religious, but 'make no outward shew, profess nothing unless you are asked and then with conscious rectitude declare your precepts'. Hear as little as possible and betray still less knowledge. Take bitter pills with a wry face. 'If you say you will punish, abide by your word or your threat will be treated with derision, and be careful in your mode of punishment that you do not allow passion to get the upper hand of your reason.'