Monday, August 27, 2012

Literature: Of Sailors Old and New

Alexis de Tocqueville, who was born in Paris in 1805, was a brilliant observer of his fellow human beings. He traveled extensively in the U.S. between the War of 1812 and the American Civil War and left his thoughts to posterity in his seminal work Democracy in America. At a time when almost any travel had something to do with getting on a ship and being in close proximity with sailors, Monsieur de T had some thoughts about that, too:

The European sailor navigates with prudence; he only sets sail when the weather is favorable; if an unfortunate accident befalls him, he puts into port; at night he furls a portion of his canvas; and when the whitening billows intimate the vicinity of land, he checks his way and takes an observation of the sun.

But the American neglects these precautions and braves these dangers. He weighs anchor in the midst of tempestuous gales; by night and day he spreads his sheets to the winds; he repairs as he goes along such damage as his vessel may have sustained from the storm; and when at last approaches the term of his voyage, he darts onward to the shore as if he already descried a port. The Americans are often shipwrecked, but no trader crosses the sea so rapidly. And as they perform the same distance in a shorter time, they can perform it at a cheaper rate.

As Benjamin Franklin once noted, the Americans - as de Tocqueville would call us - had become an entirely different race of people. And that went for sailors, too.

Header: Alexis de Tocqueville by Theodore Chasseriau c 1850, just six years prior to his death, via Wikipedia


Timmy! said...

And we still are, Pauline...

Pauline said...

No kidding; "Damn the torpedoes!"

CR Fancy Dress said...

Great site, some really good pirate info here! Where do you find all the images, some of them are incredible! (In fact, where do you get all the info for the blog posts, do you just do a lot of research about pirates?)

Pauline said...

Thank you so much CR; I appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to comment.

Most of the images on Triple P come from Wikipedia/Wikimedia and some of my favorite sites such as American Gallery, Old Paint and Under The Black Flag. I try to link back to the original site if at all possible (aside from Wiki as that's pretty easy for most people to access).

My sources are almost exclusively books - I live in a library really - with some favorite authors including Benerson Little, Peter H. Spectre, Admiral John Smyth, Dean King, David Cordingly, William C. Davis and Pat Croce as well as original texts. Again, I try to name source material where ever possible.

Basically, I began researching pirates and privateers when I found out, through genealogical research, about the ones in my family. Eventually it occurred to me that a lot of what I discovered could never be used in the historical novel series I'm working on. And so, Triple P was born.

My hope is to be able to make information available to others who write historical fiction and those who just love the sea.

CR Fancy Dress said...

Well keep up the good work!

Pauline said...

Thank you CR; I appreciate the encouragement more than I can express.