Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Against Wind and Tide

This passage is from Patrick O'Brian's book, Post Captain, which is book two in the Aubrey - Martin series. You may know it from the movie The Far Side of the World, which is book ten in the series. To set it up, in this scene Captain Aubrey needs more men for a new ship he is shortly to take out against Napoleon's forces. Unable to come up with a satisfactory poster himself, Aubrey remembers that one of his men is skilled in such arts. This is what the crewman produced:
L5,000 a man (or more) WEALTH EASE DISTINCTION YOUR LAST CHANCE OF A FORTUNE!
HMS Polycrest will shortly sail to scour the seas of ALL KING GEORGE'S enemies. She is designed to SAIL AGAINST THE WIND AND TIDE and she will Take, Sink, and Destroy the Tyrant's helpless man-of-war, without Mercy, sweeping the the Ocean of his Trade. There is no time to be lost! Once the Polycrest has gone by there will be no more PRIZES, no more fat French and cowardly Dutch merchatmen, loaded with Treasure, Jewels, Satins, and Costly Delicacies for the immoral and luxurious Usurper's Court. This Amazing New Vessel, built on Scientific Principles, is commanded by the renowned ------- whose Brig Sophie, with a 28lb broadside, captured L100,000's worth of enemy shipping last war. 28lb, and the Polycrest fires 384lb from either side! More than TWELVE TIMES as much! The Enemy must soon be Bankrupt - the End is Nigh. Come and join the Fun before it is too late, and set up your Carriage! Captain Aubrey has been prevailed upon to accept a few more hands. Only exceptionally wide awake, intelligent men will be entertained, capable of lifting a Winchester bushel of Gold; but perhaps YOU ARE THE LUCKY MAN! Hurry, there is no time to be lost. Hurry to the Rendezvous at the -- YOU MAY BE THE LUCKY MAN WHO IS ACCEPTED! No troublesome formalities. The best of provisions at 16oz. to the pound, 4 lb. of tobacco a month. Free beer, wine and grog! Dancing and fiddling aboard. Be healthy and wealthy and wise, and bless the day you came aboard the Polycrest!
God save the King!
On reading it over, Captain Aubrey approves it, gives the writer money to take to the printer's for handbills and posters, and then, just before returning to his preparations, reminds the men, "pray, do not reject anything that can haul a rope." Perhaps Red Ensign recruiting should take note?

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