Feb. 20th, 2011

It was war with Boney again, and I had had enough of my apprenticeship. I had been two years working as a glazier’s boy, and in my opinion that was enough time to spend shoveling sand and coke, particularly when brave Englishmen were tweaking the nose of the Bonaparte and his frogs. At the soonest opportune moment I stole a horse, rode all night to Spithead, and sought to join the Royal Navy.

The sight of the ships of war lying at anchor was a moving one. Those gallant, clean-lined frames of wood and canvas and rope, bobbing fifty feet above the water, were sufficient to inspire a young man such as I to a life of action. I approached the first vessel I could and asked to speak to the master’s mate. That very day I was impressed into the King’s Navy.

Our ship was named _Atalanta_, forty guns, a small ship but fast, ideal for harrying the traffic of the Frenchman and his allies. I had never been aboard any sort of sea-craft, let alone a ship of war, and my first experiences lying at port in Spithead were to be eye-opening. It is disorienting enough for a land-lubber to become swiftly acquainted with the trials and chores of life at sea aboard a conventional craft that maneuvers by power of wind on sail; still more demanding is learning to go to war aboard a craft worn as a hat by a wading invisible giant.

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September 2012

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