Young Gentlemen at Sea
This chapter takes a look at the navy. For many boys growing up in England in the eighteenth century, the Royal Navy was immensely glamorous, the object of intense fascination. There was almost universal agreement that the navy was Britain's own particular strength, and that unlike the army, the navy defended the country and promoted trade without threatening traditional English liberties. Even in peacetime there were naval exploits to capture the imagination. A career at sea, especially in the navy, appeared exciting, romantic, and desirable; and there were numerous cases of young boys either running away to sea or demanding that their parents allow them to join the navy. Many parents favoured the navy as a career for their younger sons on more pragmatic grounds. It was traditional, patriotic, and thoroughly respectable.
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