Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Swearing
PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:38 am 
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I was amused to read the following in an 18th Century tongue-in-cheek satire by Matthew Pilkington, 'An Infallible Scheme': that if a tax were levied on swearing, drunkenness and fornication - 'now made an essential part of a gentleman's character' - the public debt could be wiped out in 182 days.'

But there were concessions: one was to 'soldiers and sailors who were to be allowed a tax-free fifty oaths per day'.

They would have needed it, I think. Southey mentions that one of The Hero's few faults was a propensity for swearing. John Willett Payne was notoriously foul-mouthed; Midshipman Millard gave a lively picture of Lt Yelland, fearing a crucial order had been misunderstood, stamping, cursing and swearing in a rage; the ship's schoolmaster Morrice in his educational guide bemoaned the poor example set to youngsters by superior officers who swore without restraint.

I haven't yet read the 'Blue Lights' book on the naval evangelicals - but I bet there's a great deal there on anti-swearing campaigns. Gambier was wont to rebuke officers who 'took the Lord's name in vain.'

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