As it appears usual to write a preface forward, I feel bound to comply with the custom, and wish to explain that this small work is written with the object of dispelling the illusion that "Tradition and Custom count for nothing and it is a pity that Nelson is not buried deeper."
To those who think matters over, the above oft heard statement merely gives pain. To the other type I can only repeat the words of the distinguished officer who wrote "Whispers of the Fleet" (the late Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock). "So long as the wind and weather last, so assuredly the seaman in command will weather the lubber - and believe me, Sir, the mainsheet, though in a different form, still drives the Kingís ships to windward".
In view of the numerous distinguished seaman who have compiled textbooks and manuals it would be an impertinence for me, in this respect, even to try and follow in their wake, but my hope is that someone with greater talents, more opportunity, and fuller scope, may be stirred into activity, and put into print such knowledge that all the world may learn the origins and customs from which spring our present day nautical language, expressions and phraseology. I will not say in this case that "Small beginnings make great ends", but would have you believe that chance actions lead to much reflection. In support of that remark I would mention that the origin of my work, in the field of nautical research, was occasioned by my old friend and instructor, Professor Callender, who threw a hammer at me for remarking that St. Paul in his last journey made a poor landfall when he hit Malta. The hammer missed me, but a train of thought was started of which this little work is the outcome.
This pamphlet is compiled from notes which were put together to form the basis of a short lecture. For the lack of style I claim indulgence, as I find "The mightier weapon" tiring to wield and uncertain in itís effect.
In this predicament I feel that I can count on the sympathy of "Those who go down to the sea in ships," who are frequently forced to put pen to paper for the benefit of "Higher Authority" after they have ceased for the moment "To occupy their business in great waters."
My sincere thanks are due to Professor Callender for much help and valuable criticism, also to Commander C. N. Robinson, R. N. , Mr. John Masefield, Mr. H. Hodges (for permission to make use of their well known works), Mr. J. W. Culling, Director of Victualling, Surgeon Rear Admiral Sir Arthur Bankhart, K. C. V. O. , Sir Conrad J. Naef, C. B. , C. B. E., Accountant General , Mr. G. E. Manwaring, of the London Library, Mr. D. B. Smith, Secretary of the Admiralty Library, the late Editors of both the "Mariners Library" and the Naval Review, and to my numerous helpers both in H. M. Service and the Merchant Service. Finally, I would tender my thanks to an unknown Naval Officer who served some time in the eighteenth century and who wrote copious notes on these subjects, but neglected to tally the manuscript, which came in to my hands in 1912 and was destroyed by enemy action in 1914.
W. N. T. Beckett,
Captain, R. N.
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