But if you come to the seamen in the merchants' service, not the least provision is made: which has been the loss of many a good ship, with many a rich cargo, which would otherwise have been saved.
And the sailors are in the right of it, too. For instance, a merchant ship coming home from the Indies, perhaps very rich, meets with a privateer (not so strong but that she might fight him and perhaps get off); the captain calls up his crew, tells them, "Gentlemen, you see how it is; I don't question but we may clear ourselves of this caper, if you will stand by me." One of the crew, as willing to fight as the rest, and as far from a coward as the captain, but endowed with a little more wit than his fellows, replies, "Noble captain, we are all willing to fight, and don't question but to beat him off; but here is the case: if we are taken, we shall be set on shore and then sent home, and lose perhaps our clothes and a little pay; but if we fight and beat the privateer, perhaps half a score of us may be wounded and lose our limbs, and then we are undone and our families. If you will sign an obligation to us that the owners or merchants shall allow a pension to such as are maimed, that we may not fight for the ship, and go a- begging ourselves, we will bring off the ship or sink by her side; otherwise I am not willing to fight, for my part." The captain cannot do this; so they strike, and the ship and cargo are lost.
If I should turn this supposed example into a real history, and name the ship and the captain that did so, it would be too plain to be contradicted.
Wherefore, for the encouragement of sailors in the service of the merchant, I would have a friendly society erected for seamen; wherein all sailors or seafaring men, entering their names, places of abode, and the voyages they go upon at an office of insurance for seamen, and paying there a certain small quarterage of 1s. per quarter, should have a sealed certificate from the governors of the said office for the articles hereafter mentioned:
If any such seaman, either in fight or by any other accident at sea, come to be disabled, he should receive from the said office the following sums of money, either in pension for life, or ready money, as he pleased:
Pounds Pounds An eye 25 2 Both eyes 100 8 One leg 50 4 Both legs 80 6 For the Right hand 80 6 loss of Left hand 50 or 4 per annum for life Right arm 100 8 Left arm 80 6 Both hands 160 12 Both arms 200 16
Any broken arm, or leg, or thigh, towards the cure 10 pounds If taken by the Turks, 50 pounds towards his ransom. If he become infirm and unable to go to sea or maintain himself by age or sickness 6 pounds per annum. To their wives if they are killed or drowned 50 pounds
In consideration of this, every seaman subscribing to the society shall agree to pay to the receipt of the said office his quota of the sum to be paid whenever, and as often as, such claims are made, the claims to be entered into the office and upon sufficient proof made, the governors to regulate the division and publish it in print.
For example, suppose 4,000 seamen subscribe to this society, and after six months--for no man should claim sooner than six months--a merchant's ship having engaged a privateer, there comes several claims together, as thus -
Pounds A was wounded and lost one leg . . . . . . . . . 50 B blown up with powder, and has lost an eye . . . . 25 C had a great shot took off his arm . . . . . . . . 100 D with a splinter had an eye struck out . . . . . . 25 E was killed with a great shot; to be paid to his wife 50 === 250
The governors hereupon settle the claims of these persons, and make publication "that whereas such and such seamen, members of the society, have in an engagement with a French privateer been so and so hurt, their claims upon the office, by the rules and agreement of the said office, being adjusted by the governors, amounts to 250 pounds, which, being equally divided among the subscribers, comes to 1s.