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Gentlemen of Uncertain FortuneHow Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen's England$
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Rory Muir

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300244311

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300244311.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

The Navy

The Navy

Promotion and Employment

(p.212) Chapter Ten The Navy
Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune

Rory Muir

Yale University Press

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.

Keywords:   navy careers, Royal Navy, patriotism, life at sea, naval officers, promotion

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