There is perhaps no event in the annals of our history which excited more alarm at the time of its occurrence, or has since been the subject of more general interest, than the Mutiny at the Nore, in the year 1797.
Forty thousand men, to whom the nation looked for defence from its surrounding enemies, and in steadfast reliance upon whose bravery it lay down every night in tranquillity,—men who had dared everything for their king and country, and in whose breasts patriotism, although suppressed for the time, could never be extinguished,—irritated by ungrateful neglect on the one hand, and by seditious advisers on the other, turned the guns which they had so often manned in defence of the English flag against their own countrymen and their own home, and, with all the acrimony of feeling ever attending family quarrels, seemed determined to sacrifice the nation and themselves, rather than listen to the dictates of reason and of conscience.
Doubtless there is a point at which endurance of oppression ceases to be a virtue, and rebellion can no longer be considered as a crime; but it is a dangerous and intricate problem, the solution of which had better not be attempted. It must, however, be acknowledged, that the seamen, on the occasion of the first mutiny, had just grounds of complaint, and that they did not proceed to acts of violence until repeated and humble remonstrance had been made in vain.
About the Author
Captain Frederick Marryat (10 July 1792 – 9 August 1848) was a British Royal Navy officer, novelist, and a contemporary and acquaintance of Charles Dickens, noted today as an early pioneer of the sea story. He is now known particularly for the semi-autobiographical novel Mr Midshipman Easy and his children's novel The Children of the New Forest, and for a widely used system of maritime flag signalling, known as Marryat's Code.
Marryat was born in London, the son of Joseph Marryat, a "merchant prince" and member of Parliament and his American wife Charlotte, née von Geyer. After trying to run away to sea several times, he was permitted to enter the Royal Navy in 1806, as a midshipman on board HMS Imperieuse, a frigate commanded by Lord Cochrane (who would later serve as inspiration for both Marryat and other authors).
Marryat's time aboard the Imperieuse included action off the Gironde, the rescue of a fellow midshipman who had fallen overboard, captures of many ships off the Mediterranean coast of Spain, and the capture of the castle of Montgat. When the Imperieuse shifted to operations in the Scheldt, in 1809, Marryat contracted malaria, and returned to England on the 74-gun HMS Victorious.
After recuperating, Marryat returned to the Mediterranean in the 74-gun HMS Centaur, and again saved a shipmate by leaping into the sea after him. He then sailed as a passenger to Bermuda in the 64-gun HMS Atlas, and from thence to Halifax, Nova Scotia on the schooner HMS Chubb. Once there he joined the 32-gun frigate HMS Aeolus, on 27 April 1811.
A few months later, Marryat again earned distinction by leading the effort to cut away the Aeolus' mainyard to save the ship during a storm, and, continuing a pattern, he also saved one of the men from the sea. Shortly thereafter, he moved to the frigate HMS Spartan, participating in the capture of a number of American ships (the War of 1812 having begun by then), and on 26 December 1812 was promoted to lieutenant.
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