Christmas Day: not a sober man in the ship

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Went to Church in the morning and founf there old Cambridge friend Hoare.

I dined at 4 oclock with Gunroom officers, it does me good occasionally dining there, for it makes me properly grateful for my good luck in living with the Captain. The officers are all good friends yet there is a want of intimacy, owing I suppose to gradation of rank, which much destroys all pleasure in their society.

The probability of quarrelling & the misery on ship board consequent on it produces an effect contrary to what one would suppose. Instead of each one endeavouring to encourage habits of friendship, it seems a generally received maxim that the best friends soon turn out the greatest enemies.

It is a wonder to me that this independence one from another, which is so essential a part of a sailors character, does not produce extreme selfishness. I do not think it has this effect, & very likely answers their end in lessening the number of quarrels which always must necessarily arise in men so closely united. Let the cause be what it may, it is quite surprising that the conversation of active intelligent men who have seen so much & whose characters are so early & decidedly brought out should be so entirely devoid of interest.

Christmas day is one of great importance to the men: the whole of it has been given up to revelry, at present there is not a sober man in the ship: King is obliged to perform duty of sentry, the last one sentinel came staggering below declaring he would no longer stand sentinel on duty, whereupon he is now in irons getting sober as fast as he can.

Wherever they may be, they claim Christmas day for themselves, & this they exclusively give up to drunkedness -- that sole & never failing pleasure to which a sailor always looks forward to.

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This page contains a single entry by Charles Darwin published on December 25, 1831 12:22 PM.

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