Promotion and Employment
This chapter continues the discussion on careers in the navy, particularly in terms of career progression. On the whole the navy was not a particularly rewarding career for most officers. Life at sea, especially for a midshipman, was harsh, uncomfortable, and dangerous, while there was only a slim chance of making a fortune or even of becoming sufficiently prosperous to be able to marry and support a family in the style of a gentleman unless they had some private means of their own. Yet some men found it extremely satisfying, relishing their time at sea while also enjoying enforced periods of leisure at home with their families. This was largely a matter of taste and temperament rather than patronage or connections: there were plenty of men of all ages and ranks for whom the sight of a proud man-of-war setting sail lifted their hearts and made them thank fate — or their parents — for preserving them from a life of tedium and dullness behind a lawyer's desk or in a counting house. Patriotism, the pursuit of glory and, at least during the war, the sense of performing an essential service, provided intangible rewards, while a naval officer had a respected place in British society which long continued to regard the navy as central to its identity.
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